What are some of the poetic techniques in "Song of Myself," Number 10"\?

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

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You might want to think about the kind of imagery that Whitman creates and uses in this intensely visual part of his poem. In number 10, Whitman presents us with a series of different images, describing himself as riding in the wilderness, sharing chowder with clam-diggers, witnessing a marriage of a trapper into an Indian family and sheltering a runaway slave. Each of these episodes are designed to convey Whitman's idea of a self that embraces and is in union with other humans, nature, and the cosmos as a whole.

Certainly, out of this selection, one of the images that clearly stands out is the marraige of the trapper into the Indian family. Note how this is described and how Whitman creates this image precisely so we can share in it:

On a bank lounged the trapper, he was drest mostly in skins, his luxuriant beard and curls

protected his neck, he held his bride by the hand,

She had long eyelashes, her head was bare, her coarse straight locks descended upon her

voluptuous limbs and reach'd to her feet.

There is a very strong visual element to this description, as we see the "luxuriant beard and curls" of the trapper, and the way he protectively holds his wife's hand. Likewise we can see the length of the hair of the bride and imagine how they cover her "voluptuous limbs." Whitman therefore creates a memorable image that helps convey another scene that shows how the ideal "self" is in union with everything and everyone.

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