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 I am doing a paper on Walt Whitman's poems: "Noiseless Patient Spider", "Song of...

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jwright13 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted June 18, 2013 at 11:32 AM via web

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 I am doing a paper on Walt Whitman's poems: "Noiseless Patient Spider", "Song of Myself, and "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" and how they fall into American Romanticism. Please help with a thesis statement that confirms that the poems speak about the natural world (nature), individualism, and transcendentalism.

Doing research, it looks like the three poems have the following characteristics of American Romanticism: speak about natural world (nature), individualism, and transcendentalism.

Am I correct with this? If not, can someone let me know what they do have in common? Also, a thesis statement would be amazing :)

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 18, 2013 at 12:52 PM (Answer #1)

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Walt Whitman concluded that his own "contradictory instincts" came from his mother's down to earth, material and practical concept of learning which she combined with the “transcendental and cloudy. ” 

Song of Myself, considers the nature of the human self "Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.” The narrator - "I"  lives through life's challenges; creation and destruction; and transcends the real world, detached from it whilst still a part of it.  The narrator is still a part of life, gaining satisfaction from simply being able to “exist as I am, that is enough." Whitman reveals an existence that surpasses individual feeling as "I myself become the wounded person.” All humankind is connected such that "“All truths wait in all things.”

To be able to connect A Noiseless, Patient Spider may seem unlikely but this spider speaks in the first person and this first person speaker, the spider itself and its soul all converge. The contradiction that exists between the speaker "surrounded" and, at the same time, "detached"compares to Song of Myself where the detachment is the contradiction and is what will ultimately create the union “Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them.”  

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry brings inanimate objects into the whole spectrum of what creates life which connects it to the other two. It brings life full circle by creating life in something so seemingly inert.  

Thesis:

Walt Whitman stands for all that the American spirit was, is and can still be. It is within each one.

Thus your assessment of the characteristics of these poems can be considered correct based on your own interpretation.  From Crossing Brooklyn Ferry:

"We plant you permanently within us                   We fathom you not - we love you - there is perfection in you also."

There is no need to judge everything according to the same standards. Standards are set by contexts, life, beliefs, etc.  

Sources:

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