Briefly summarize and analyze "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman.

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As the previous educator noted, it is impossible to "briefly" summarize "Song of Myself." Any summary offered to you will fail to cover every aspect of the poem. It would be better to summarize a cluster of stanzas, but, even then, sometimes Whitman shifts topics from one stanza to the next.

In addition to the massive poem being a celebration of life, it was also, according to Whitman scholar Ed Folsom, Whitman's idealistic attempt to use a poem to stop the impending Civil War. "Song of Myself" was first published in 1855, at the height of sectarian tensions, inflamed by the Compromise of 1850, which included the new Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. The new law demanded that slaves who escaped to the North had to be returned to their Southern plantations. Whitman included a narrative about aiding a fugitive slave, but also included among his vignettes of American life images of black men working and "a quadroon" being sold on an auction block. Whitman's images convey an ambivalence about slavery that may have been the nation's general attitude toward the peculiar institution at the time.

Whitman includes and validates people from every region of the country, despite being a New Yorker himself. He emphasized the beauty and value of every portion of the nation, including newly formed states, such as California and Texas, eschewing the sectionalism that was characteristic of the country at the time (and, arguably, now). Thus, one summary of the poem is that it is a celebration of a great, but troubled, nation.

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There is simply no way to briefly summarize "Song of Myself". The poem is 52 stanza's of sensuality, vocabulary, rapture, and love. The basic principal that Whitman expressed in his masterpiece is that we, human beings, are all one. We are all connected in the beautiful tapestry of everything. He says "Every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you" (stanza 1). The poem glorifies the human spirit and the human form. Whitman saw the human body as a beautiful work of art. "Song of Myself" is a celebration of life.

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