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Why is this quote "All these-the meanness and agony without end, I sitting, look out upon, See, hear, and am silent" ironic?

  • English -

    It's easier to interpret these lines by reading the entire poem by Walt Whitman.

    "I SIT and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all
    oppression and shame;
    I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at anguish with
    themselves, remorseful after deeds done;
    I see, in low life, the mother misused by her children, dying,
    neglected, gaunt, desperate;
    I see the wife misused by her husband—I see the treacherous seducer
    of young women;
    I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited love, attempted to be
    hid—I see these sights on the earth;
    I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny—I see martyrs and
    I observe a famine at sea—I observe the sailors casting lots who
    shall be kill'd, to preserve the lives of the rest;
    I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant persons upon
    laborers, the poor, and upon negroes, and the like;
    All these—All the meanness and agony without end, I sitting, look
    out upon,
    See, hear, and am silent."

    Is being silent the logical outcome of Whitman's lamenting the evils of the world?


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