O, Death! O, Death! An example of apostrophe: an address to a dead or absent person, or personification as if he or she were present; see glossary definition here). <learning/glossary-term/apostrophe> About this Poem. This poem, published in 1842, is a revision of Whitman’s first published poem “Our Future Lot,” from 1838. In that 20-line poem, similar wording includes: “With flashing hope, and gloomy fear” (line 2); “The troubled heart and wondrous form / Must both alike decay (lines 7-8); “Dull senseless limbs, and ashy face, / But where, O Nature! where will be / My mind’s abiding place? (lines 10-12); and the final line “The common doom—to die!” a black and pierceless pallpall A dark cloud or covering of smoke or dust
Hangs round thee, and the future state;
No eye may see, no mind may grasp
That mystery of fate.
This brain, which now alternate throbs
With swelling hope and gloomy fear;
This heart, with all the changing hues,
That mortal passions bear—
This curious frame of human mould,
Where unrequited cravings play,
This brain, and heart, and wondrous form
Must all alike decay.
The leaping blood will stop its flow;
The hoarse death-struggle pass; the cheek
Lay bloomless, and the liquid tongue
Will then forget to speak.
The grave will take me; earth will close
O’er cold dull limbs and ashy face;
But where, O, Nature, where shall be
The soul’s abiding place?
Will it e’ene’en Traditional poetic contraction for “even,” pronounced as one syllable to fit the meter of the line live? For though its light
Must shine till from the body torn;
Then, when the oil of life is spent,
Still shall the taper burn?
O, powerless is this struggling brain
To rendrend Cause great emotional pain to (a person or their heart) the mighty mystery;
In dark, uncertain awe it waits
The common doom, to die.