Song of Myself Questions and Answers
by Walt Whitman

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According to the speaker in section 1, celebrating oneself is equivalent to celebrating what?

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In the first section of this poem, Whitman draws an equivalence between his celebration of himself and his celebration of the person to whom the poem is addressed. He celebrates himself, and therefore he prevails upon the listener to "assume" the same thing that he assumes. What he is saying here is that, if the speaker is celebrating himself, the listener should be happy to assume that this is a broader celebration of humanity, because "every atom belonging to me" also effectively belongs to "you," the listener.

Whitman goes on to elaborate on this theme that a celebration of the self is effectively a celebration of humanity as a whole. He notes that every "atom" of his person is one with the soil, the air, the atoms which built up his parents, and so on and so forth.

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When analyzing Walt Whitman's poem, "Song of Myself," it is important to understand its connection to the American Transcendentalist movement of the early- to mid-1800s. Transcendentalism emphasized the importance of self-expression and self-reliance; hence, the poem's title, "Song of Myself," and its first line, "I celebrate myself and sing myself." However, one of the major philosophies of transcendentalism is the existence of an over-arching "Over-soul," which unites all individuals as one being. This idea is illustrated in the poem's line "For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you." Therefore, when Whitman is celebrating himself, the individual, he is also celebrating "you," the listener, because all individuals are also one shared being. This is extrapolated outwards later in stanza 1 in the line "My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air, / Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same." The atoms that make up Walt Whitman are the same as those from the soil and air, which are the same as those from his parents, and their parents, and their parents' parents, etc.