Homework Help

Describe the equality in Whitman's "Song of Myself".

user profile pic

scotthaken | Honors

Posted August 21, 2013 at 2:03 AM via web

dislike 1 like

Describe the equality in Whitman's "Song of Myself".

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 21, 2013 at 6:45 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 0 like

It is important to remember that, in spite of the title of this collection of poems, it is more about America and Whitman's vision of what he would like it to be rather than himself. Whitman envisaged a country based on equality and trust, respect and decency, and this is captured throughout this work. It is of course tragically ironic that it was only a few years after the publication of this work that the Civil War broke out, proving his fears of America not being like he wanted it to be correct. However, one example of how equality is presented in his work is in Section 6, when he meditates on the symbolic importance of grass:

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Grass, to Whitman, is the plant that symbolises America, or how America should be: it is completely democratic in that it grows everywhere and everybody comes from the grass and returns to it. No matter where you are from or ethnicity or what station you have in life, grass seems to capture the equality that Whitman envisages his American ideal possessing.

Sources:

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes