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In Section 33 of Song of Myself, what are some examples of visual imagery and tactile...

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minuetprincess | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 9, 2011 at 7:43 AM via web

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In Section 33 of Song of Myself, what are some examples of visual imagery and tactile imagery?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 10, 2011 at 9:09 AM (Answer #1)

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This section of Whitman's poem is filled with sensory writing; imagery is the most predominant poetic technique found throughout. Many of the visual images are those of nature:

  • "Where the panther walks to and fro on a limb overhead"
  • "Where the buck turns furiously at the hunter"
  • "Where the rattlesnake suns his flabby length on a rock"
  • "Where the alligator in his tough pimples sleeps by the bayou"
  • "Where the beaver pats the mud with his paddle-shaped tail"

The specific details in these lines create the visual images. Here is another excellent example of visual imagery from the poem:

Where cattle stand and shake away flies with the tremulous shuddering of their hides

Not all of the visual images capture scenes from nature; some are domestic, such as those found in this passage:

Where the cheese-cloth hangs in the kitchen, where andirons straddle the hearth-slab, where cobwebs fall in festoons from the rafters;

These images create the interior of farm house kitchen or a cabin.

Tactile imagery in the poem is not developed as frequently, but it is present and effective, as seen in these examples:

  • "Scorch'd ankle-deep by the hot sand, hauling my boat down the shallow river"
  • "The twinges that sting like needles his legs and neck, the murderous buckshot and the bullets"

In these passages, hot sand burns the feet, and a runaway slave feels the physical pain of being shot. 


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