Walter “Walt” Whitman was an American poet who was born on 31st may, 1819 and a lived a very legendary life to die in March 26 1892. He was born on the Long Island and worked as journalist, a government clerk, a teacher, also took the role of a volunteering nurse during the American civil war. These were in addition to the publishing of his poetry. As a humanist he incorporated in his works the views of both the transcendentalism and also those of the realism. He is termed as one of the most influential poets in the making of the American canon and is usually referred to as the father of the free verse. One of his major works was the leaves of the grass which was published in 1855. He was strongly and deeply influenced by deism and held the perspective that no one faith was superior to the other and that all religions were equal. His sexuality is debatable as some believe he was a homosexual and others think of him as a bisexual and this is through his poetry works (Miller).
From his famous rich collection comes the famous “song of myself”. This could be termed as one of the great distinction ever drawn between an individual and the society. The better part of this poem lies in the political message it relays, the whimsical use of the structure and how it relates with the personal life of the author. The poem song of me is a democratic one where Whitman through singing about himself, feels that he is singing about every other person. In his poem, he wants everything in the United State to be incorporated in the poem and also purposes not to use any of the established forms of writing poems but rather adopts his own free verse style. This poem is an episodic work which has much of its materials testing the boundaries of convention. The use of his language is wisely chosen which helps create pictures of the series of events desired to be relayed to the reader. Whitman is set to establish order and to be able to capitalize on the success he has.
This is the belief in self reliance which he uses when he says in his poem “I celebrate myself and sing myself.” This theme is more revealed in his poem through his illustrations of self reliance, simplicity, nature and optimism. He uses self reliance in the poem to show his advocacy of the transcendentalist idea. From tyhe first line if this section , he determines to bring in a manly man who has alot of things encompassing him. He prepares the reader for for an epic poem and there shall be lots of times the reader would be recquired to fit into the poets shoes to be able to view things as they are. He says “ And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you” He shows that , the most important and significant parts of his life were “i” and “me” .He is also very hopeful of living life to the fullest by his say that ,” Hoping to cease not till death.” This shows his desire to go on living and not to die. He contin.He shows his simplicity andself reliance inthe verse that says the “Creeds and schools in abeyance. ” Abeyance means being temporarily inactive in the creeds of school to show his simplicity in the cares of life (Loving). There are further things that reveal his transcendental ideas by writing in his poem that i “celebrates myself .”
In this section he exemplifies his transcendental ideas by the use of the style of natural symbols. He amplies nature to be a spring board for meditation . He goes ahead to invite his soul to contemplate about the summer grass which helps in bulding his transcendentalist idea. He further reveals his theme of transcendentalist by his optimism. In his transcendental idea, being optimistic means looking for every good thing in humanity. In his search for meaning , he decides to “harbor for good.”
Section16 –Whitman feeling the connection with human beings
Mostly, in his works, he identifies himself with the various classes of people at different times. He is able to associate with the young as well as the old folks. He is able to relate also with the different dimensions of life. He says that he is able to cope with bad and good times. He considers all nations as significant regardless of its size, mighty or weak. There is no distinction between those who come from the different parts of the country. In most of his trying to emphasize his cases, he opts to employ the technique of using lists. This helps in adding weight to his central focus of the point being driven home.
In this section, he has a catalogue of his he many occupations like; a mechanic, a farmer, gentleman, artist, sailor, fancy-man, prisoner, physician, lawyer, priest among many. This use of a list makes it more easy to see the fact that he is able to relate to various groups of people in his set up. He goes ahead to imaginehimself living in all parts of America. From New York, California, Texas, Canada, Mexico, vermount, Ohio, Maine, Wisconsin and finally Indiana. This use of list to describe the various different people he has dealed with together with him having travelled to different parts of the country makes himan all-round person who is conversant with various cultures of people. He also employs yhe use of opposite to show the importance of being all-inclusive. He never agrees to be classified because he wants to be all round.
Section 39-reverence of the savage and the uncivilized
In his eyes , he views everyone as equal. No one is special and everyone is of the same nature. In this section, he admires the lawless behaviour, the plainness of the use of language and the naivety potrayed. He show how the savage have not the care of the world in any way. The savage is describe as one who other people would always want to be copied by him. Whitmans recomends that the naive should continue in his naivety carry on using the simple words which are liked to the grass.Though this kind of treatment , the savage is still unique in this in itself helps exemplify the essence of self-reliance. The savage though doen’t get any bit of yearning for for the comforts of the civilized ones. Whitman is there to inspire that one should follow their own path of liking rather than try to copy others. This would make individuals realize their calling in life by remaining true to their turn of events (Folsom).
He is later opposed to the idea that one can become fully satisfied even after acquiiring all the knowledge . It’s from this point of view that one is able to understand that there is no point of experiencing everything. He makes the use of symblosim once again but this time ,he combines it with imagery when he describes the appearance and mannerism of the naive person. He draws a picture who everyone gazes at due to their naivety,one who has uncombed hair and with the general talk and laughing so freely. He is illustrated as a person who walks in a slow pace for the fear of what others are thinking about him.Throgh these description of the savage person an image is created in the head which helps rely the point home.
Section 24- Power
This section presents some of the Whitmans basic principles. He at one point calls himself ,a ‘kosmos”, to mean the universe. This goes along inthe poets definition of the self to mean that he is one who is able to love all people . It’s stated that , through him many long and dumb voices of prisoners ,slaves, dwarfs and thieves who had previously been deemed to be down trodden but are now transfigured after articulation.He also describes the lust if the various parts of the body which to him is a miracle. At one instance he says , “The scent of these armpits aroma finer than prayer.”There is an overall comprehensive description of the poet’s power. He claims, “With the twirl of my tongue I encompass world and volumes of world. Speech is
The twin of my vision”
The poet is self appraising and thereby describing himself as mystical and gross. He also feels that he is a part of everything that has come in his life and of everything he had seen. He nevertheless is poet who is depicted as one of balance. This is more so because he is able to accept both the good and the bad that come in his universe. He is able to accept all life that comes; whether naked and bare, noble and ignoble, crude or refined, pleasant and painful, or beautiful and ugly. Both the physical and the spiritual aspects of his vision have an organic unity just like the body and the soul. The poet realizes that both the physical and the spiritual are aspects of the divine. The conclusions of all things are reached at a point where the poet experiences an ecstasy of love through the contemplation of what grass means with reference with what it means in the mystical experience. To his understanding, all physical aspects of life are as deathless as the grass. He employs the definitive use of language to show the relationship between grass and aspects of life.
Section 18 death and immortality
This section salutes all the members of the all humanity. Grass which has been an epic of the poem plays an important symbol to suggest the divinity of the common things. Through nature and grass, an important theme of death and immortality is well exemplified. The grass depicts a symbol of an ongoing cycle of this present life in nature and through this, each man is assured of his part in immortality. Nature becomes like an emblem of God since His eternal presence in the very nature is well evident in all surroundings. Grass becomes like the key to the secrets between the relationship between man and the divinity. Therefore, it’s brought out more clearly that, God is everything and at the same time everything is God. This section mostly deals with the issues of life, death, nature and God. Their primary role is to reveal the nature through which the poet travels. They help to show the different scenes he faces in life as well as the spiritual knowledge which he takes a long time to gain. They reveal a mystical experience through the awakening of the poet’s self realization. The experience arises out of a belief that it’s possible to attain a good communion with God through the contemplation of his love. This though can be achieved without the medium of human reasoning. It becomes as a result a way of acquiring knowledge of the spiritual truths by intuition.
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