Walt Whitman Poetry: American Poets Analysis
An approach to Walt Whitman’s poetry profitably begins with the “Inscriptions” to Leaves of Grass, for these short, individual pieces introduce the main ideas and methods of Whitman’s book. In general, they stake out the ground of what Miller has called the prototypical New World personality, a merging of the individual with the national and cosmic, or universal, selves. That democratic principles are at the root of Whitman’s views becomes immediately clear in “One’s-Self I Sing,” the first poem in Leaves of Grass. Here, Whitman refers to the self as a “simple separate person,” yet utters the “word Democratic, the word En-Masse.” Citizens of America alternately assert their individuality—obey little, resist often—and yet see themselves as a brotherhood of the future, inextricably bound by the vision of a great new society of and for the masses. This encompassing vision requires a sense of “the Form complete,” rejecting neither body nor soul, singing equally of the Female and Male, embracing both realistic, scientific, modern humanity and the infinite, eternal life of the spirit.
Leaves of Grass
Whitman takes on various roles to lead his readers to a fuller understanding of this democratic universal. In “Me Imperturbe,” he is at ease as an element of nature, able to confront the accidents and rebuffs of life with the implacability of trees and animals. As he suggests in Democratic...
(The entire section is 5268 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Walt Whitman Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!