Walt Whitmans Poem: Song of Myself: Speaking to Every Man
Walt Whitman's poem, "Song of Myself," is a significant piece of literature because it reveals one man's attempt at not only understanding his own experience but his fellow man's as well. It reaches out to every individual--smart or simple. Whitman desired to cross boundaries with this poem and help us realize how we ultimately depend on earth other. His eyewitness accounts of the suffering brought about by the Civil War probably provided the impetus for writing the poem. His compassion for his fellow man is only matched by his appreciation for life itself. "Song of Myself" is indeed a celebration--of life, of man, of being a part of the universe. When we take time to understand the poem, we realize that we are coming close to understanding the poet as he wished to be remembered. It is important to understand that Whitman wished to challenge contemporary literature, which he felt was written for the "exceptional man" (Spiller) rather than the simple man. The common poetry of the day was one external feature that influenced Whitman's poetry in general. In "Song of Myself," this idea is prevalent and can be seen in the opening of the poem when he identifies himself with every man. He tells us, "For ev
Here, we see how the poet is taking simple delight in the immediatepleasure of his own body and experience. ) I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least, Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself. Whitman witnessed the travesty of the Civil War andthis had an incredible impact on his poetry. Spillerbelieves this message is critical to the concept of the entire poem becauseit establishes the notion that the poet considers himself to be a part ofthe "eternal time stream" (Spiller 478). He writes: And I say to mankind, Be not curious about God, For I, who am curious about each, am not curious about God; (No array of terms can say how much I am at peace about God, and about death. Spiller states, "They are kin to the grass that grows wherever the land is,the common air that bathes the globe" (Spiller 478). The completely understand the poem "Song of Myself," we must examine thetime frame in which it was written. His compassion for his fellow man was probably heightened because of theloss of life he encountered. He was first speaking to every man--not just the intellectual,poetic type, but also the simple man. This notion is further explored later in the poem when hewrites, "Whoever degrades another degrades me; And whatever is done or saidreturns at last to me" (Whitman 498-99). With these lines, we see how thepoet considers no one to be any better than anyone else. He encourages us toexperience a sense of liberation when he tells us to "Unscrew the locksfrom the doors! Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!" (495-6). (1274-9)This passage clearly indicates that the poet believed that mankind couldindeed be a mouthpiece for God. In a sense, the warallowed Whitman to see every man as well as every aspect of life as asmaller part of something larger. He tells us: I depart as air I shake my white locks at the runaway sun; I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.
Some topics in this essay:
Civil War, God Nor, Ellis Havelock, Walt Whitmans, civil war, poet considers, entire poem, poem song, body soul, curious god, understand poem, spiller 478, compassion fellow, sense liberation,
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