How Has Walt Whitman Depicted Nature in “Patrolling Barnegat”?

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“Patrolling Barnegat”, composed in 1856, is a poem that explores nature in all its rage during a storm at sea. The poem is set on a beach on a stormy, cold night. Someone is walking alone along the beach through snow, looking out to sea across the wild waves. Through the dark and snow he is not quite sure what he sees - possibly a shipwreck, and a distress signal - then what seems to be a group of walkers, braving the storm. There is a real sense of danger and fear. The poem sets a stormy scene, with the word “wild” repeated at the start to show how wild and violent the storm is, and leaving us in no doubt as the mood of the poem. The sea is high and the gale has a steady “roar” with use of onomatopoeia emphasizing the sounds of the wind blowing brutally. There is a sense of personification with the “undertone muttering” with “incessant” showing that this noise continues all the time. This develops into ‘demoniac laughter’, which links the devil to the storm, making it seem evil and hostile. These sounds are described as “piercing”, which shows how violent and unpleasant they are. The poem has the sonnet structure of 14 lines, but it does not follow the 10 syllables per line form, showing the wildness and unpredictability of the storm. There is a religious metaphor on line 4 “waves, air, midnight, their savage trinity” the trinity is “father, son and holy spirit” in the church, here it is the combination of all factors that cause the demonic stormy scene, as if it has been created by a force, like the devil or God. The storm is continually built up to be a wild force with words like “lashing” and “fierce slanting” both showing the power of the force of the rain and wind on everything around it. The “death-wind” mentioned in line 7 makes the setting appear even more unfriendly, making the reader wonder what the wind is trying to do. The way Whitman
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