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1. the deliberate application of light to achieve some aesthetic or practical effect.
2. clarification, an interpretation that removes obstacles to understanding.


Whitman’s use of “illuminating” refers to the brightness of the sun as well as the sunsets ability to clarify the memories the darkness of age convolutes.


1. The property of colors by which they can be perceived as ranging from red through yellow, green, and blue, as determined by the dominant wavelength of the light.
2. A particular gradation of color; a shade or tint.
3. Color: all the hues of the rainbow.
4. Appearance; aspect: a man of somber hue.
Whitman uses the term “changing hues” to extend his discussion of the aging mind. The colorful hues of youth are constantly changing to the darker state of the elderly.


1. a careful observation of a certain item in order to obtain some detail or fact.
2. to glance from point to point of often hastily, casually, or in search of a particular item.
Whitman poem seems to be reliant on the observations of the past and his memories, but scanning is becoming more difficult as his aging mind fails to retain clear images of his past.


Poetic Form:
a.)Whitman’s poem can be broken into two distinct parts: the frame of the poem in which Whitman discusses the sunset as an image and the middle section which Whitman uses to describe the failing memories that he associates with old age.
b.)Whitman uses dashes and commas frequently in the text to reflect the disjointed state of the elderly mind searching for memories and connections that are increasingly difficult to maintain in old age.


a.)The Sunset: Whitman describes the sunset physically as “golden setting, clear and broad” (line 5) and introduces the “twilight” in terms of “airy, different, changing hues of all” (line 3).
b.)Whitman employs the sunset as more than a physical object by extending the metaphor to discuss the setting sun as an image of failing memories in the aging mind.
c.)The image of the sunset and the receding light becomes a parallel image to the aging mind: as the earth darkens at sunset the aging mind struggles to maintain the memories of the past while approaching the inevitable darkness of death.

1 2

The touch of flame—the illuminating fire—the loftiest look at last,

2 0

Oer city, passion, sea—oer prairie, mountain, wood—the earth itself;

3 1

The airy, different, changing hues of all, in falling twilight,

4 0

Objects and groups, bearings, faces, reminiscences;

5 0

The calmer sight—the golden setting, clear and broad:

6 1

So much i the atmosphere, the points of view, the situations whence we scan,

7 0

Brot out by them alone—so much (perhaps the best) unreckd before;

8 0

The lights indeed from them—old ages lambent peaks.