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 1881. This fact is telling when considering the poem's themes and truths: Whitman himself did not necessarily consider the implications of such a self-referential title, although modern scholars often interpret the work as intensely personal and perhaps even self-indulgent. But Whitman's body of work is influential for these very subjects of intimate and scrupulous self-knowledge and self-iventory. The free verse format of the work is further evidence of the poet's iconoclastic approach, one that serves inspiration and impulse (also themes found in this poem) more than it does the formal expectations of poetry.
As with much of Whitman's poetry, themes of sexuality, nature, identity and life's purpose are woven throughout this text. Whitman unites these themes in a sort of cosmic manifesto, one that questions the very fabric of life and the human being's place in it. In the poem's celebratory language exploring the human body, for example, he goes beyond mere biological or physical functions and pleasures and considers the more mystic and spiritual aspects of the body's context within in the natural world. He also questions the experience of human suffering and seems to embrace his responsibility as a poet to give voice to the vast spectrum of human experience. Because the poem was written just before the conflicts that ignited the American Civil War, it is possible Whitman's thought process was influenced by questions surrounding slavery, sovereignty and national pride.
The Cycle of Life in Walt Whitman's Song of Myself Essay
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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. The images of flags, tears, children and older people that are torn from the ones they love, but only to soon return to other lost ones are all parts of Walt Whitman's…show more content…
On holidays, we honor the great people who served our country, by hanging our flags in a memorial to them, a symbol of those who have passed.
Another image that Whitman gives his readers in the poem is that of a handkerchief; we think of two things; drying weeping eyes and initials. During those times, not however as common a practice now, people would carry a handkerchief with them in case of the out cries of a woman. Along with tears, we are forced to think about why people cry? This develops thoughts about people that are loved being torn away, like in death. As you look at a handkerchief, it is often times easy to identify who it belongs to by the initials that appear on the cloth. This is a way to remember those that have died and keep them with you always. I think that this is a major idea of the poem, although someone no longer walks the face of the earth this does not mean that they are no longer with us, because they are in spirit and memory.
Also included in the poem is the image of a young child being embraced by their elders. This shows the gap in life and the aging process that we go through. When we are young we are carefree, but as we age we hold on to the ones we love because of the knowledge that we will one day have to make our departure. Out of this idea of death, Whitman shows that this is a natural part of life and