Visualizing Eternity in Walt Whitman's Song of Myself Essay

Visualizing Eternity in Walt Whitman's Song of Myself Essay

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Visualizing Eternity in Walt Whitman's Song of Myself


Whitman's poem "Song of Myself #44" stands as a confession and testaments of not only who he is and what he is, but also as who we are, we being people in general. The poem is not about a self-idolizing author claiming to be the greatest being of all time. Instead it paints a picture for all mankind alike to relate to. It puts a mirror in front of the world and presents an angle of an image that, though familiar, we have never seen or realized before.

In the very beginning of the poem, Whitman addresses the world upon a pedestal, asking them to stand and explore with him the unknown. And what is unknown is eternity and the meaning of life. From this beginning there is a tone of a confession or a speech that is set out to reveal something new and something of importance. He "strips away" what is known, or rather, all the little things of life, that which really does not matter much, and tries to get to the bottom of it all. And what lies at the bottom is eternity. This is the unexplainable, the unattainable, but also the essential. Eternity cannot be captured by people, it "lies in bottomless reservoirs"(1136). It is a force that has been present for many years, and will continue forth for more than anyone will ever know. But it is through this force that people have grown and learned to exist.

The poem puts in writing the constantly moving force of life and time. We were born somewhere along the line of life and will die somewhere as well, but we still were present in the nurturing existence of time; everyone has his or her time, place, and moment of life. In line 1142, Whitman writes, in my opinion, a kind of commentary of society, that whi...


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...nd then to "Monstrous sauroids" or dinosaurs roaming the earth. The whole process has "been steadily employed to complete and delight me"(1167). I do not feel that he intentionally means that he alone is the product of the universe's existence, but I feel that he speaks of himself in such a way but does not exclude everyone else from the realization that they too are the end result of history. It reads to me more like a confidence boaster rather than an egotistical look at life. But this is arguable as, in the beginning of the poem, he says "It is time top explain myself"(1133), but he includes as along by saying "I launch all men and women forward with me into the unknown"(1134), so it is a matter of perspective. I feel, however, that it is not just Whitman but everyone who can now stand as the completion of nature, the final product of history, which is life.

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