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Song of Myself Research Papers

Paper Masters custom writes research papers on poetry such as Walt Whitman's Song of Myself. Song of Myself is a complex poem that is frequently studied in college poetry courses. Get help today from Paper Masters.

Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself is justly famous for conveying a sense of boundless optimism on a cosmic scale. Song of MyselfThis optimism appears not to have been purely a matter of art, but rather, it was something deeply embedded in the poet’s personality. Research papers identify Whitman as belonging to that class of writers possessing a temperament organically weighted on the side of cheer and fatally forbidden to linger, as those of opposite temperament linger, over the darker aspects of the universe.  The atmospherics of Whitman’s poem, Song of Myself are such as to produce in the reader a sense of celebration with respect to all aspects of life, a comprehensive rejoicing over both the physical and the spiritual realms of human existence.  Part of the way in which Whitman achieves these atmospherics in Song of Myself is through the use of scale. Whitman’s Song of Myself is filled with things designed to convey a sense of the sheer grandeur and multitude of the phenomena over which he exults. This essay will discuss some of the ways in which Whitman makes use of scale to promote his optimistic message.

  • Whitman had a disdain for official forms of knowledge
  • Whitman is not making a philosophical or even a theological argument. 
  • Whitman is “demonstrating” with his poem what life looks like when viewed through the lens of a certain type of religious consciousness. 
  • Since life so viewed is filled with grandeur, his use of the largest possible scale reinforces this message.

Where another poet might depict an imaginative journey in terms of certain salient aspects of the landscapes through which that journey passed in Song of Myself, Whitman’s tendency is to, when he is “afoot with my vision,” present a vast list of the details of the landscape that his vision takes him through. He takes four pages to describe the various “wheres” that he goes to (59-63) and at the end (“I tread day and night such roads.”) the reader has the sense that he/she has been given a landscape of the entire world. The sheer number of details in Whitman’s extended list, taken in the aggregate, convey an impression of the sublime, of a journey that is not just a journey, but rather “The Journey.”

Published in 1855, “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman and was originally part of his Leaves of Grass collection of poems. The poem is composed of 52 sections and written in a free verse format. The poem is considered one of the most significant American poems ever written. The poem is known as a “democratic” poem and tells what it means to be an American. The poem was written a few years before the outbreak of the Civil war, which is significant because of the overarching theme of friendship that is pervasive in the poem. Whitman hints at his belief that ultimately friendship might be the only way to prevent an outbreak of war.

There are several themes that are pervasive throughout the poem. The first theme that is very clearly seen thought the entire poem is the idea of identity. Whitman begins the poem by explaining to the reader that he plans to celebrate himself in the poem. Whitman also introduces a second character in the poem. The two characters are the speaker and his soul. The speaker, Walt Whitman, invites his soul to sit and stare at a blade of grass with him. The speaker continues to muse over his love for the work and nature. At the time of publication, this poem was somewhat controversial because of the erotic nature of some of the poem. This is seen in the introduction where the speaker talks about his desire to get naked and to with the air.

A second theme is the democratic America. In the poem, America is not just a place but and idea. America symbolizes equality, friendship, and neighborly love. The poem is full of diversity, but ultimately its goal is to remind people of what it means to be an American. Whiteman’s third theme is friendship and how important friendship is to the success of a democratic nation.

The fourth theme present in “Song of Myself” is spirituality. Whitman talks about religion and his belief that the soul and body are one in the same and cannot be separated. The poem contains Biblical language but is considered contradictory to traditional Christian beliefs.

Finally, the fifth theme present in the poem is sexuality. This is the most controversial aspect of poem. Whitman does not come right out and use erotic terminology but instead uses metaphors to write about sex. According to the poem, Whitman believes that the culture in the United States was not as accepting of sexuality as it should be. He believes that the shame adopted by Puritan settlers is detrimental to a culture.

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