During a lecture in 1907, William James said "the philosophy which is so important in each of us is not a technical matter; it is our more or less dumb sense of what life honestly means. It is only partly got from books; it is our individual way of just seeing and feeling the total push and pressure of the cosmos" (Bartlett 546) Individuality has been a prevalent theme in every type of literature for quite some time. Whether it is a character discovering his/her individuality or the author expressing his, literature is full of distinctness. The term individuality changes meaning with each person it meets. That is what makes the dynamic word so great. Throughout particular works read this semester, individuality has been the foundation for several of them. Walt Whitman takes his newfound ideas and Quaker background and introduces American Literature to a totally different meaning of individuality in "Song of Myself."
Whitman's radical ideas of individualism have a great deal to do with his Quaker background. The Quaker religion is one in which the authority was Inner Light. "Whitman himself was not only personally familiar with, but deeply impressed by, a religion whose only authority was the Inner Light" (Canoy 481). The Inner Light is a special influence, which made Whitman's poetry unique. This certain influence did such things as guide Whitman down his soul searching path as well as help him define within himself the characteristics of an individual. In section fifteen of "Song of Myself," Whitman discusses people from every class and every profession. He goes on to say "the young fellow drives the express-wagon... love him though I do not know him;" (2753). ...
... middle of paper ...
...either hasten their own delivery, not resist it" (2767). Would it really be that bad to be an individualist instead of conforming to the crowd? I do not think so.
*Bartlett, John. Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. Boston: Little,Brown and Company,1992.
*Canby,Henry Seidel, Johnson, Thomas H., Ludwig,Richard M., Spiller, Robert E., Thorp, Willard. Literary History of the United States. New York: The MacMillian Company, 1963.
*Franklin, Benjamin. Autobiography and Poor Richards almanacks. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. 3rd ed. Ed. Paul Lauter.Boston, NewYork: Houghton Mifflin,1998.
*Renyolds, David S., Walt Whitman's America-A Cultural Biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995.
*Whitman, Walt. Song of Myself. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. 3rd ed. Ed, Paul Lauter. Boston,NewYork: Houghton Mifflin, 1998.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Forged in the fire of revolution and defined by manifest destiny, America has always been the land of the individual. Although the American dream has not always been consistent, (married with 2.5 kids, 2 cars, a dog and a satisfying job), the spirit of innovation, individuality and progress remains unchanged. The father of free verse, and perhaps the American perspective of poetry, Walt Whitman embodies these values in his life and work. First published in 1855 in Leaves of Grass, "Song of Myself" is a vision of a symbolic "I" enraptured by the senses, vicariously embracing all people and places from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans.... [tags: Song of Myself Essays]
1521 words (4.3 pages)
- Identities and Transcendentalism in Song of Myself While reading through the poem Song of Myself by Walt Whitman, what comes to your mind. His deep love for nature. The use of symbolism throughout the poem. Whitman’s questionable homoeroticism that seeps its way throughout the lines. What came to the forefront of mind when reading this poem by Whitman was his deliberately obvious theme of individuality while also maintaining a universal identity. I also think that Whitman throws in a common underlying theme of transcendentalism throughout his poem.... [tags: Individuality, Poem]
830 words (2.4 pages)
- Walt Whitman is considered the foremost poet of American democracy of his time. Not only did he fully embrace it, but he believed that American democracy was more than a political system, but a way of life (Casale 48). Many of his personal experiences influenced his deep democratic point of view (48). As a volunteer at an army hospital during the American Civil War, he saw many die and became increasingly grateful for the opportunities provided by the American government (Mirsky). Later, as he was residing in New York City, Whitman witnessed America face urbanization.... [tags: Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, Song of Myself]
1276 words (3.6 pages)
- One of the most popular American poets is Walt Whitman. Whitman’s poetry has become a rallying cry for Americans, asking for individuality, self-approval, and even equality. While this poetry seems to be truly groundbreaking, which it objectively was, Whitman was influenced by the writings of others. While Whitman may not have believed in this connection to previous authors, critics have linked him to Emerson, Poe, and even Carlyle. However, many critics have ignored the connection between Walt Whitman and the English writer William Wordsworth.... [tags: Walt Whitman, Poetry, Romanticism, Romantic poetry]
1407 words (4 pages)
- Walt Whitman Walt Whitman was a follower of the two Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. He believed in Emerson and Thoreau’s Trascendentalist beliefs. Whitman believed that individualism stems from listening to one’s inner voice and that one’s life is guided by one’s intuition. The Transcendentalist centered on the divinity of each individual; but this divinity could be self-discovered only if the person had the independence of mind to do so. Whitman lent himself to this concept of independence.... [tags: essays research papers]
1371 words (3.9 pages)
- 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]
720 words (2.1 pages)
- Emerson and Whitman's Views of Self "What is man anyhow. What am I. What are you?" asks Whitman. Who we are, what our purpose is and what the meaning of life is are all mysteries that man has tried to solve from his earliest history. Whitman and Emerson explore these ideas in their works, Song of Myself and Self Reliance. Whitman, an American poet, and Emerson, an American philosopher, take different approaches in their search for self-discovery, yet within their solutions, many parallels can be found.... [tags: Papers]
458 words (1.3 pages)
- Very few people will contest that Walt Whitman may be one of the most important and influential writers in American literary history and conceivably the single most influential poet. However many have claimed that Whitman’s writing is so free form as evident in his 1855 Preface to Leaves of Grass and Song of Myself that it has no style. The poetic structures he employs are unconventional but reflect his very democratic ideals towards America. Although Whitman’s writing does not include a structure that can be easily outlined, masterfully his writing conforms itself to no style, other then its own universal and unrestricted technique.... [tags: essays research papers]
1138 words (3.3 pages)
- Mysticism, Democracy, Individuality&Personality The 1881 publication of the Leaves of Grass contained more than twenty-four poems, which were reasonably filled with ten or more diversified types of themes. Walt Whitman the author and compiler of this exceptional work changed the status of poetry writing through his utilization of thought and expression in the publication of the Leaves of Grass. Ralph Waldo Emerson, a collogue and admirer of Walt once spoke this of him '…Whitman, that Sir, is a strange case, a case unknown to any of us, unless we should stumble upon him at church one day…';(Chase 142).... [tags: essays research papers]
1010 words (2.9 pages)
- 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]
1767 words (5 pages)