Poetic Tools Describe Life in Walt Whitman's Song of Myself Essay

Poetic Tools Describe Life in Walt Whitman's Song of Myself Essay

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Poetic Tools Describe Life in Walt Whitman's Song of Myself


Walt Whitman is commonly known as the bard of America, a poet who wrote about the common man of the country as had never been done before. He was able to do so because he was a common man, as can be seen in lines such as "This is the city and I am one of the citizens." Within his poetry he often used certain tools of the typical epic tale, borrowed from such tales as The Iliad, and The Odyssey. All of these tools can be seen within the lines of his lengthy poem of fifty-two sections "Song of Myself." The first of these tools include an invocation of the muse, as can be seen in the lines "I loafe and invite my soul," which appears to be an invocation of a muse, or his own soul which may also be his muse. Another tool used is cataloguing, throughout this poem Whitman incorporates many descriptions and images that he lists in a catalogue form. Another typical epic tool is that of beginning en medias res, or in the middle of things. The use of similes, comparisons using like or as are another epic tool that is pervasive within Whitmans works. The final tool Whitman uses is the intermingling of high and low, or the common man associating with people of a different class for example when he compares someone to the president " Have you outstript the rest? are you the President?" Whitman also incorporates certain personas into his works when he uses "I" and "me", which do not always refer to him. Lastly, Whitman uses a form of writing called free verse, which exhibits no conscious rhythmic structure, it is unrhymed. It is with this form that Whitman sets out to capture the American vernacular, making his poetry more of a representation of Americas common man.

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...mbryo, saying "My embryo has never been torpid." Using his well-known tool of cataloguing he lists several items such as a "nebula," an "orb," "strata," "vegetables," and "sauroids." All of which are items of the past and add to the theme of eternity. It is with these words and images that Whitman incorporates his life into the great expansive eternity. He shows how he, and everyone else fits into the great timeline, and ultimately how the past can effect ones life in the present. Ultimately Whitman comes to realize just this, that the past has come to make him who he is and he ends the section by saying "All forces have been steadily employed to complete and delight me, Now I stand on this spot with my soul."

Works Cited:

Whitman, Walt. Song of Myself. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. 3rd ed. Ed, Paul Lauter. Boston,NewYork: Houghton Mifflin, 1998.

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