1
ON the beach, at night,
Stands a child, with her father,
Watching the east, the autumn sky.

Up through the darkness,
While ravening clouds, the burial clouds, in black masses spreading,
Lower, sullen and fast, athwart and down the sky,
Amid a transparent clear belt of ether yet left in the east,
Ascends, large and calm, the lord-star Jupiter;
And nigh at hand, only a very little above,
Swim the delicate brothers, the Pleiades.

2
From the beach, the child, holding the hand of her father,
Those burial-clouds that lower, victorious, soon to devour all,
Watching, silently weeps.

Weep not, child,
Weep not, my darling,
With these kisses let me remove your tears;
The ravening clouds shall not long be victorious,
They shall not long possess the sky—shall devour the stars only in apparition:
Jupiter shall emerge—be patient—watch again another night—the Pleiades
shall
emerge,
They are immortal—all those stars, both silvery and golden, shall shine out again,
The great stars and the little ones shall shine out again—they endure;
The vast immortal suns, and the long-enduring pensive moons, shall again shine.

3
Then, dearest child, mournest thou only for Jupiter?
Considerest thou alone the burial of the stars?

Something there is,
(With my lips soothing thee, adding, I whisper,
I give thee the first suggestion, the problem and indirection,)
Something there is more immortal even than the stars,
(Many the burials, many the days and nights, passing away,)
Something that shall endure longer even than lustrous Jupiter,
Longer than sun, or any revolving satellite,
Or the radiant brothers, the Pleiades.

Analysis, meaning and summary of the poem by

15 Comments

  1. lonely says:

    On a human level, it is about not giving up hope. it may be cloudy in the sky tonight, and i may not be able to see Jupiter and the Pleiades, but while staying close to someone to ease the loneliness, I can await another night where the stars will shine again. Sad times do not have to last forever. It is about the longevity of love. The child, placing almost human-like sympathy on Jupiter and the Pleiades is comforted by her father, who tells her that these stars are immortal and will shine again.

  2. s.prabu09uen162 says:

    i think that in this poem poet says the truthful love between him and his daughter,his child may in sorrow and his father console your sorrow like strange cloud soon wanised but you
    like moon,so you can come frome sorrow like moon come from strange

  3. midnightsummerheat says:

    night here in this poem is used to show to reflect the loneliness of the poet in this vast universe to which both he and all humanity is confronted to…though night is a symbole of depression and loneliness ..depression is to be avoided here in this poem…the poet is then feel himself caught between time and space ..and then become involved in the eternal ultimate mouvement of time and place

  4. Rob Keown says:

    Regarding the comments on the “Swim the delicate brothers, the Pleiades.” as incorrect. It is not. Many cultures have stories behind this constellation. In Whitman’s time he could be referring to the Lithuanian legend tying the constellation to the “7 sleeping brothers.”

    Search on the term: “Lithuanian Ethnoastronomy” for more information on the 7 brothers.

    This poem is correctly quoted.

  5. Kaleigh Bartlett says:

    In “On the Beach at Night Alone,” Walt Whitman implies that everyone and everything is connected to nature. Whitman uses a variety of writing techniques to get his point across. First, the repetition and parallel structure that his poems contain reinforce the connection between everything in nature. The usage of “All” 11 times emphasizes the inclusion of everything in the universe. The sentence structure remains the same throughout the poem, without any drastic change; however, the length of the lines in the poem vary. In addition, Whitman’s’ extravagance with his words further illustrates his idea of the Over-Soul. For example, “A vast similitude interlocks all” (4) shows his verbose nature. Whitman does not do directly to the point, but gives every little detail. Most importantly, Whitman’s’ use of catalogues stands as the most recognizable Whitman characteristic that illustrates his beliefs. These long lists that he uses set the mood of the poem. “All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets,” (5) shows the idea that everything is connected in nature. Similarly, “All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations languages.” (10) furthermore emphasize Whitman’s belief in the Over-Soul.
    Although Whitman uses a great deal of structural ways to stress his ideas, he also uses many other ways of delivering his ideas. First of all, Whitman portrays himself as a public spokesman of the masses. The tone of the poem is a very loud, informative tone that grabs ones attention. The emphasis placed on the word “all” adds to the characterization of Whitman as a powerful speaker. Furthermore, Whitman takes part in his own poem. Participating in his own poem, Whitman moreover illustrates the connection between everything in life. Lastly, Whitman, most of all, celebrates universal brotherhood and democracy. Once again, the inclusion of the word “all” so many times demonstrates Whitman’s belief in that everyone is connected no matter what their position is in society. Whitman stresses the fact that all humans are equal in that “All identities that have existed or may exist on this globe” (11) share similar connections with nature. Ultimately, Whitman’s belief in the Over-Soul reveals the bond between nature and the universe.

  6. Peter says:

    I think that this poem is about love which is an everlasting passion – more immortial than the stars on the sky. This should be the real consolation for the child who had probably lost her mother. Like the stars from the sky, so the passion of her mother should always shine in life of the child.

  7. Jessica says:

    It is true that the death of a mother is not mentioned, but if you read the poetry of dozens of other poets, they also do not mention the actual subject of their poems. It is left for us to ponder and figuer out. Like a riddle. The first sign that made me think that it was the death of a mother, was the mention of “burial” clouds. And it flowed into other signs as well. This poem is just awesome.

  8. bird fancy says:

    this poem is incredible at showing theinnocence of a child. yet, there is a slight mystery to it, since Walt Whitman doesn’t say that the mother died, it is very logical to think so..
    its beautiful

  9. Jessica says:

    I think this poem is wonderful and creative. But if you look deeper into the meaning of this poem, one may think that it may be a father and daughter standing on a beach, mourning over the loss of the mother. To a little girl, her mother is the sun, moon and stars. And the father reminds the daughter that love will last longer than even the moon and stars. Look into the meaning of the words and read between the lines. It can look to be a very sad poem with a very deep meaning.

  10. Nick says:

    Something there is,
    (With my lips soothing thee, adding, I whisper,
    I give thee the first suggestion, the problem and indirection,)
    “Something there is more immortal even than the stars,
    (Many the burials, many the days and nights, passing away,)
    Something that shall endure longer even than lustrous Jupiter,
    Longer than sun, or any revolving satellite,
    Or the radiant brothers, the Pleiades.” – Wonderful poem…Seems like he may be referring to there love. Does anyone else think this?

  11. Katherine says:

    WOW this poem is awesome! It’s really deep…it also reminded me of me and my dad a while ago when i was little….

  12. Jillian says:

    I found this poem yesterday while I was looking for one for my AP english class. I fell in love with it the minute I finished reading it, it is by far the best poem that I have ever read.

  13. Carrie says:

    This poem is amazing..It reminds me of my dad, who passed away recently…

  14. Sarah says:

    This is one of the most amazing poems I have read when it comes to getting into the human mind! WOW!

  15. Charlie says:

    This poem uses incedibly descriptive words to express the beach and human nature as no one else is able to. He sees into the human mind in a very unique way. I wish that I could write this well.

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