When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d by Walt Whitman expresses the terrible death of Abraham Lincoln. “And the great star early droop’d …. ” taken from the second line of the poem demonstrates the reference to President Abraham Lincoln with “Great Star” as the representation being the 16th president of the United States. Whitman’s yearly reminder of Lincoln’s death is symbolizes by the blooming of the lilacs in April which justify the same month in which Lincoln was assassinated. Whitman makes use the imagery of lilacs to successfully convey the vigor of the poem.
Lilacs here emphasize the things about the death and elegy of Lincoln. The first one is that the lilacs symbolize sorrow in the beginning but currently represent closure. It means the death of the president brought them sadness but the lilacs place on the coffin gives them hope because it is a symbolic gesture of honor and respect. It also signifies that even though the flower is rotten, again and again there will be new lilacs when spring comes. Just like Lincoln, through his elegy his memories will be revived. The turning point of this poem which was written by Whitman deals with death and acceptance of it.
This line explains it “I leave thee lilac with heart-shaped leaves; I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning with spring”. He proves his optimistic outlook here. Lilacs also indicate the repeated sequence of life. Whitman perceives from the lilacs, that passing away is an unavoidable factor of this cycle. The images of the lilac represent love, hope, life, despair, and rebirth. They also serve as a channel that leads Whitman to understand death. Through this poem, Whitman honors Lincoln as a magnificent leader and a noble person. Aside from this, it is also important because it provides end for the nation in bereavement.
Above all, the poem of lamentation efficiently shows that Lincoln’s heritage will always be reborn among the blossoming lilacs when spring returns. In my own opinion, Whitman changes poetry forever by having a concrete representation of his feeling about the person whom he adores and respects too much. The way he delivers the details of his poem, it shows that the whole nation involves here and he tries to comfort all of them even himself. In that aspect, it’s very hard for a poet or writer to address wholeheartedly the entire story of the person being emphasized.
Because it may lead him to the wrong motives and implications, it can be a big issue to the readers or listeners, it maybe biased and more on criticism. But as he connects one line of the poem to the other, we will notice the strong feeling of Whitman that he is affected by the tragedy happened to the president. And he tries his best to put the details into figures of speech so that the true essence of poetry will not be erased. I do believe that Whitman change poetry forever by simply putting his heart in his poem, his true feeling and the lesson that he learns after making the whole poem.