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Poetry written in an "open form" is more commonly referred to as "free verse." This means that the poem is not bound to a rhyme scheme, nor any rhythmical regulations, such as number of beats in a line or number of lines in a stanza. Though much of modern poetry is written in open form, many hail Walt Whitman as an innovator of this form in American literature.
As the very first poem published in Leaves of Grass, "Song of Myself" is a long poem written in open form, which contains multiple poetic elements as it explores the themes of identity, American nationalism, and the connection of each person to each other and to the earth. Its opening stanza sets these themes with:
I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
The general meaning of the poem is the speaker's exploration in identity as both a tangible as well as transcendent idea. Using himself as the key subject, personal identity is compared to the identity of every American through a catalogue of personal characteristics, different people, experiences, and images from nature. The poem utilizes, in varying degrees, internal and end rhyme, repetition, alliteration and assonance, as well as the building of emotions and rise of tone toward a climax.
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