Essay on Choosing Sides in Walt Whitman's Song of Myself

Essay on Choosing Sides in Walt Whitman's Song of Myself

Length: 1109 words (3.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

“Song of Myself” is an attempt by Walt Whitman to become the “American poet” as described by Ralph Waldo Emerson; he attempts to be “[T]he sayer, the namer, and [representative] of beauty” (Emerson 1182). Whitman wants to speak to and for America. Whitman does not explicitly choose sides on the slavery debate that was raging at the time of his writing, but he does express the equality of all people, regardless of gender and race in “Song of Myself”. While Whitman’s writing can be read as neutral but “Song of Myself” is, in reality, very anti-slavery and pro-equality.
In “Song of Myself” Whitman attempts to speak on behalf of the entire American population. He tries to pull the reader into a world of many possibilities. Whitman makes a point of informing the reader that the “I” is not him, but everyone. The “self” is the reader, whoever the reader may be. The first few sections invite the reader in and encourage them to think for themselves, “You shall listen to all sides and filter them for your self” (Whitman 2211). Whitman wants people to throw off societal conventions and think for themselves about the issues at hand.
Whitman’s writing strategy throughout “Song of Myself” is very purposeful. At times he gets very specific, naming exact things the “self” is while other parts are very vague, leaving them up for interpretation by the reader. Whitman attempts to speak on behalf of America by using vague language, metaphors, and contradictions in his writing. He allows for much reader interpretation in “Song of Myself.”
At several places throughout “Song of Myself” Whitman implies that all people are equal and all people are connected. Whitman says, “And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters an...


... middle of paper ...


...lizes that he cannot tell stories that have not been told, and therefore cannot represent all of America. But he can speak to and represent much of it.
Can Whitman speak for all of America? No, and Whitman realizes this. He knows he can’t tell stories that have never been told. However, his intention was also to make Americans take a look at issues through another perspective. “Song of Myself” allows the reader to take on many different forms and see things they might have otherwise missed. “Song of Myself” is an equalizer. It makes the reader look at the lives of others, lives they will never lead, and try to see things from that point of view. Whitman cannot speak for all of America, nobody can, but he can make Americans come together. “Song of Myself” shows similarities in all Americans, regardless of race, gender, or religion and that speaks to all of America.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Song of Myself by Walt Whitman Essay

- In his first anthology of poems entitled “Song of Myself”, Walt Whitman reveals some of his views on democracy through the use of symbolism and free verse poetry. His use of symbolism and free verse poetry creates indeterminacy, giving the reader hints rather than answers about the nature of the poem. In the sixth part of “Song of Myself”, a child asks the narrator of the poem, “What is the grass?” (Whitman). Instead of simply giving an answer, the narrator cannot make up his mind, and stumbles on how to explain the grass to the child....   [tags: Song of Myself Essays]

Strong Essays
1357 words (3.9 pages)

Song Of Myself By Walt Whitman Essay

- “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman is a great American poem that reflects the nation’s ideals such as freedom, equality, and unity. These ideas were much needed at the time of its first publication in 1855, ten years before the American Civil War. The poem was published again 1n 1891 just before the poet’s death. “Song of Myself” should serve as an American epic because of its representation of American tradition, culture, and ideals. It also strives to include all of the country’s extremely diverse population, which is a difficult task....   [tags: United States, Walt Whitman, American Civil War]

Strong Essays
1081 words (3.1 pages)

Walt Whitman's Song of Myself Essay examples

- In one of the sections from the poem, “Song of Myself” Walt Whitman starts out with a child asking a question, “What is the grass?” Grass is a symbol of life. God, who created both the heavens and the earth also gave birth to life. When Whitman refers to grass as a “handkerchief of the Lord” (7), as a gift. When people look at the grass, they do not think of it as a creation but rather just a plant. Whitman refers to the grass as “a child, the produced babe of vegetation” (11, 12). Here, the grass is a metaphor for the birth of a child....   [tags: Song of Myself Essays]

Strong Essays
720 words (2.1 pages)

Essay on Choosing Sides in Walt Whitman's Song of Myself

- “Song of Myself” is an attempt by Walt Whitman to become the “American poet” as described by Ralph Waldo Emerson; he attempts to be “[T]he sayer, the namer, and [representative] of beauty” (Emerson 1182). Whitman wants to speak to and for America. Whitman does not explicitly choose sides on the slavery debate that was raging at the time of his writing, but he does express the equality of all people, regardless of gender and race in “Song of Myself”. While Whitman’s writing can be read as neutral but “Song of Myself” is, in reality, very anti-slavery and pro-equality....   [tags: Song of Myself Essays]

Strong Essays
1109 words (3.2 pages)

Walt Whitman's Song of Myself Essay

- Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" Walt Whitman's 'Song of Myself' is, on the most basic descriptive level, a really long poem. Whitman is clearly a poet with a lot to say, or at least with a lot of different ways to say it. He meanders from the micro to the macro, from atoms to the whole earth. There are obviously myriad ways to explain what the poem is about, and myriad 'keys' to its true meaning. In what became Section 6 of the final edition (lines 90-121 of the 1855 edition ) Whitman himself addresses this sort of 'meta-question' of interpretation....   [tags: Song of Myself Essays]

Strong Essays
1767 words (5 pages)

Essay about Walt Whitman's Song of Myself

- Walt Whitman's Song of Myself This paper deals with Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" in relation to Julia Kristeva's theories of abjection--my paper does not point to abjection in the text, but rather the significance of the abscence of abjection. This abscence, looming and revolting, arises from Whitman's attemt to refigure a conception of sublimity which delimits the material which can trigger the sublime moment. Whitman's democracy of the sublime is inclusive of those figures on the American landscape, their lives and voices, which are functionalized into his world....   [tags: Song of Myself Essays]

Strong Essays
3626 words (10.4 pages)

An Analysis of Walt Whitman's Song of Myself Essay

- An Analysis of Walt Whitman's Song of Myself `Whitman was always asking questions. He believed that life's goal or cause was a mystery. He was surrounded by people who were drawing distinct lines between right and wrong, rejecting the things in the universe that were not a direct ticket to holiness. Whitman, unlike his contemporaries, embraced the beauty of everything. His mystical perception of the world ushered in the idea that God was to be found in every thing, and that He could never be fully understood....   [tags: Song of Myself Essays]

Strong Essays
774 words (2.2 pages)

Essay An Annotation of Section 24 of Walt Whitman's Song of Myself

- An Annotation of Section 24 of Walt Whitman's Song of Myself Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" is a vision of the American spirit, a vision of Whitman himself. It is his cry for democracy, giving each of us a voice through his poetry. Each of us has a voice and desires, and this is Whitman's representation of our voices, the voice of America. America, the great melting pot, was founded for freedom and democracy, and this poem is his way of re-instilling these lost American ideals. In this passage from "Song of Myself" Whitman speaks through his fellow man and speaks for his fellow man when his voice is not socially acceptable to be heard....   [tags: Song of Myself Essays]

Strong Essays
1355 words (3.9 pages)

Defining the Soul in Walt Whitman's Song of Myself Essay

- Every sentence in Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" tends to either repeat or contradict. He even says of himself, "I contradict myself" (Lauter, p. 2793). This can make Whitman's poetry a little confusing to some. In his many stanzas, definition of the soul is ambiguous and somewhat contradictory. Whitman says, "Clear and sweet is my soul....and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul" (Lauter, p. 2745). What I believe Whitman is saying here is that his soul and everything else that is not his soul, including the souls of others, is clear and sweet....   [tags: Song of Myself Essays]

Strong Essays
715 words (2 pages)

The Cycle of Life in Walt Whitman's Song of Myself Essay

- The Cycle of Life in Walt Whitman's Song of Myself In stanza six of the poem "Song of Myself", by Walt Whitman, he poses the question "What is the grass?" I believe that grass is a metaphor for the cycle of life. Throughout the poem Whitman points out images that grass could represent. All of these images stem from the life and death that we come to expect in our lifetime. During your life you will experience death, it at times surrounds you, but if you look past the grief and look to the beauty you will see that it is a cycle that keeps our world in balance....   [tags: Song of Myself Essays]

Strong Essays
798 words (2.3 pages)