“By Blue Ontario Shore” by Walt Whitman

In choosing a poem for this project, It was my wish to settle on “By Blue Ontario Shore”. The poem is one among 400 others written by Walt Whitman and compiled under the title, “Leaves of Grass”. The poems would first appear in bookstores in the year 1855. Moreover, the poems are particularly intriguing owing to the fact that they were written by a poet focusing on American democracy. A man who had made his mind up to write hymns of praise to America.  Whitman was an enigmatic fellow who did not fear to openly challenge European traditions and would often speak with a lot of exultant emphasis on Americans superiority to all other nations. He once suggested that freedom most likely has an American accent! Another of Whitman’s primary concern was the exploration, discussion and celebration of who he was, his personality and his individuality. Experts believe that he was on a quest to eulogize democracy together with achievements and potential of the American nation.

I chose the poem “By Blue Ontario Shore” due to its richness in poetic elements essential in assisting me to create my own distinct work of art. Whitman had made it his life’s work to give his thoughts poetic expressions in order to paint pictures with his thoughts. It is some sort of declamatory expression that creates a poem that is full of innovativeness and with the burden of sensations. His poetry seems to grow organically, more like a sprouting tree and does not follow any regular pattern. There is a sense of artistic freedom in his work as it lacks proper planning, abortive and disorganized but at the same time distinct. Whitman was of the opinion that poetry was not to be spoken but written. It was this criterion that would guide the form used in all his works. Additionally, Whitman was a lover of rhythm. A typical line in his verse, if subjected to the routine scanning process, would reveal prose-like sentences. The composition of his work is not in sentences but in lines (LeMaster & Kummings, 1998, p.358 ). Whitman uses the lines as his unit of sense.  Whitman a lot in common with the symbolists but would try his level best to interpret the vast universe through his sensory perceptions, thus allowing him to break from traditional methods and forms. Below is my own creatiuon that mirrors the stylistic elements that Whitman uses in “By Blue Ontario Shore”.

                                Sitting at the edge of a skyscraper

As the warm wind blows across my torso, I can’t help but wonder,

As I gasp for breathing air in this draughty rooftop, the forces of nature seem stronger,

Could the universe and mother nature be conspiring to ensure my life doesn’t end today?

Is there a God out there finally taking notice of me from his shiny golden throne and sent his angels in the form of this invisible force that seems stronger than sugar mill horses?


Oh Life, why have you been so cruel to me?

Why do I have to be that husband with childless, loveless marriage with a wife whose words sting sharper than a nettle?

Life is short, but during my short voyage across life, I have learned a lot about human beings and their nature,

I work and toil like a cotton-picking slave in Mississippi, but she never appreciates my effort, and that is why I hate her,

God, I hate her! An ungrateful woman is a curse to any man who happens to parley with her and her ilk,


She asks you to find another job, a man who works more than two jobs is a real man, she says,

What she doesn’t mention, I see through the veil of deceit that she covers herself,

You simply want me to get a second job so that you can have more money to spend,

My money!


What do you do, when your only mistake in life is loving someone with every ounce of energy in your body?

Now all that is going to remain will be my pictures, and the memories you might have forgotten to delete from you minds recycle bin,

I am sitting here, watching my credit card float mid-air, spiraling as gravity tries its level wrestle it down to the hard concrete that awaits it,

I am sure it was similarly tired of all your “wants” as opposed to our “needs”,

When the credit card tries its best to save money to buy us a house, you would prefer to empty the family kitty and go on a shopping spree in the United Arab Emirates,

Well, the credit card is tired of you and your outlandish behavior!


My workplace doesn’t feel like it used to, the main reason being you,

A grumpy husband is a terrible employee! My boss has always told me that,

You don’t cook, yet you expect me to leave money on the dresser for your miscellaneous needs!

You must be mad! For how long had I been blind to your lies?

It is your beauty that blinded me, enough is enough!

Today, I drink my whiskey in Valhalla!

                                Interpretation of the poem

                The poem relates a story of a young husband whose wife is pushing him to edge. He is on the brink of madness. He works very hard for his family, but his wife does not any of his efforts. He compares his toil to that of an African slave, pre-emancipation, in a Mississippi plantation working all day for his rich Master and overseer; but all he gets are all forms of verbal abuse. In particular, this man is emotionally abused by his wife, who taunts him whenever she gets an opportunity, and spends all his money on her dressing (she leaves regularly to the United Arab Emirates for her shopping holidays).

The persona is about to commit suicide and seems to wait for a sign that supersedes human understanding to save him from utter ruin. He seems to acknowledge the cosmic consciousness and appeals to a higher power to rescue him during his time of need. A strong wind that pushes against him seems to give him the thought of redemption, but this happens only momentarily. His suicidal tendencies return as soon as he remembers all the time and money that he has put to waste in his loveless relationship. Such is a man at the periphery of life, dogged by depression and ready to take his life and move to a spirit world devoid of suffering.

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