Further, by applying the central premises of Romanticism and Transcendentalism in a wider and more daring form than any American poet had done, he created a visionary and prophetic book which ranks as one of the great achievements of nineteenth century literature. Whitman is the supreme poet of the expanded self. His poetic persona continually celebrates, as a fait accompli, the achievement of the goal to which Romanticism and Transcendentalism aspired:
Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" is the most famous of the twelve poems originally published in Leaves of Grass, the collection for which the poet is most widely known. First published inWhitman made extensive revisions to the book, changing titles, motifs, and adding whole poems untiland tinkering further until his death in The title "Song of Myself" did not come about untilgoing through various permutations that include "Poem of Walt Whitman, an American," "Walt Whitman," and "Myself.
From the obvious "Walt Whitman" to the abstract "Myself," Whitman reveals his desire to examine the individual, the communion between individuals, and the individual's place in the universe.
The poem is at once a meditation on what it is to be human, a song to the America that Whitman felt so passionately about, and a sermon about the equality of man. Its free-verse construction, devoid of conventional meter and rhyme, mirrors the expansive, sensual, often sexual, language that marked the poem as something totally new.
An early criticism of Leaves of Grass in the September 15,edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle explains, Here we have a book which fairly staggers us. It sets all the ordinary rules of criticism at defiance.
It is one of the strangest compounds of transcendentalism, bombast, philosophy, folly, wisdom, wit and dullness which it ever catered into the heart of man to conceive….
It is a poem; but it conforms to none of the rules by which poetry has ever been judged. Born in West Hills, New York, just thirty years after George Washington was inaugurated, Whitman was raised by working-class, liberal parents during the most nationalistic period in American history.
Pride in the newly formed country's success was widespread, yet no indigenous work of literature existed to reflect the native culture, the landscape, or the political idealism of America. We have listened too long to the courtly muses of Europe.
Inone of the characters from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Kavanagh shouted, "We want a national literature altogether shaggy and unshorn, that shall shake the earth, like a herd of buffaloes thundering over the prairies!
Before publishing Leaves of Grass, Whitman worked as a newspaper apprentice, a teacher, a journalist, and a writer of short fiction. His working-class background gave him compassion for the disenfranchised. His passion for democracy and equality made him detest slavery.
His frustration with the political climate leading up to the Civil War inspired him with poetic fervor. It is interesting, then, that these elements come together in an utterly indefinable work of poetic genius.
Poets, critics, lecturers, and educators have failed to come up with a definitive interpretation of "Song of Myself," though not for lack of trying. Countless books and papers have been written in an attempt to unlock the mysteries of Whitman's mystical, lyrical, poetic journey of the soul.
In the end, most agree that the independent reader is responsible for making his or her way through this innovative, challenging, and thoroughly American poem. The version explored here is the final,or "Deathbed" edition. This section contains words approx.When this poem was first published as the opening work in Whitman's collection Leaves of Grass, it did not have a title; Whitman later titled it "Song of Myself" in This fact is telling when.
- 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 .
Whitman was a master of exuberant phrases and images: "The beautiful uncut hair of graves" ("Song of Myself," section 6) is extraordinarily descriptive.
Conversely, another description of the grass in the same section of the same poem, where it is described as "the handkerchief of the Lord," is trivial.
The video lectures from Every Atom: Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" remain accessible online. A book version of Whitman’s poem, complete with Ed Folsom’s and Christopher Merrill’s commentaries on each section, is available from the University of Iowa Press.
Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” Reimagined in Beautiful Illustrations by Artist Allen Crawford “He exalted the nature around and within us. His work is an expression of primal joy: He celebrated our animal senses, and the pleasures of being alive.”.
Apr 29, · Walt Whitman wrote one of his most famous poems, Song of Myself, in , but according to former United States poet laureate Robert Hass, .