I would like every reader to have access to this remarkable multi-faceted, landmark work. Walk with me a while and let me see if I can share some ideas that will help orient you toward understanding and enjoyment of Song of Myself. Emerson suggested that the day of formal poetic meter, an old European inventionwas coming to an end:. They use repeated words, phrases, and vowel sounds to make distinctive music.
However, this poem is not a series of fragments but rather a series of pieces in a large mosaic. I see three main themes giving structure, development, unity, and meaning to the poem overall. Keeping these in mind while reading helps you think about how each section of the poem fits with the overarching ideas in the poem.
He was expressing solidarity with average American folk. In the poem, Whitman travels America to express solidarity with the experiences of many different Americans in many different regions. He depicts Americans as a new kind of people, unique in the history of the world. In his quest to speak for America, he assumes that every American has complete equality with himself.
Later, in section 24, he says:. By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counter part of on the same terms, Sauer - Klimperei - IWM (1) - Improvisation With Myself (CD. Thus, though his journey may begin with himself, quickly he moves outward to become one in spirit with many diverse American people, moving from a lonely woman to a runaway slave to a trapper marrying a Native American to a prostitute to a fallen soldier.
I always find his total embrace of both the strong and the Album), the successful and the failed, both moving and uplifting:. From walking side by side with many kinds of Americans, Whitman then seeks to identify with all aspects of American Nature: animals, vegetation, the sea, and eventually with the divine cosmos itself.
A guy with a big ego might stop by enshrining himself in the realm of the divine, but instead Whitman returns from this American journey to present himself at the end of the poem in the humblest form of matter in the organic universe: dirt. I love this part :. To prepare himself to answer that call, Whitman takes stock of himself, his senses, his experiences, his knowledge of American life, and his affinity with nature.
Throughout the poem, he asks himself: What am I, and what do, and can, I know and experience that enables me to speak for America? Thus, on his journey to celebrate Americans, he is simultaneously searching for the message he will bring to them, and from them.
He spends more than half of the poem observing, saying at intervals that he is not yet ready to speak. After many experiences, he finally feels that his soul is complete, but realizes at that point Sauer - Klimperei - IWM (1) - Improvisation With Myself (CD the message he must share is something he cannot fully articulate:.
The message Whitman has found is that each person must learn the meaning of life by cherishing and being fully present for every life experience. Whitman offers readers sustaining food for their own life journeys.
Many faith traditions interpret body and soul, the material and the spiritual, as opposites, conceiving of flesh and the physical world as a lure or a barrier to communion with the divine.
Song of Myself illustrates a completely different view that may seem stunning, even today: the physical world of sensation is not seen as the enemy of the Spirit, but the exact path to it. This mystical union formed the center of the Transcendentalisms of all three writers, for the ecstasy accompanying it provided experiential confirmation of the validity of their views of man Sauer - Klimperei - IWM (1) - Improvisation With Myself (CD nature.
For each writer the mystical union and the act of intuitive perception initiating it were unique. It is through our material, physical encounters in Nature that we are put in touch with, and come to comprehend, the Spiritual. For instance, he reports that his observations of the natural world, as well as intuitions Sauer - Klimperei - IWM (1) - Improvisation With Myself (CD his own soul, have taught him the spiritual truth that there is no death:.
Has any one supposed it lucky to be born? I hasten to inform him or her Album) is just as lucky to die, and I know it. Some found his style odd and unpoetic. Others found his frank celebration of all the parts of the body unappealing or even obscene. One example: Lithub. However, by the time Whitman published his final edition of the poem inmany Americans regarded Whitman as a sage, and praised his poetry.
In each recording, I read a portion of Song of Myself near the beginning of the work, and discuss the meanings of some of the lines to help new readers orient themselves within this amazing work.
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