Can someone help me with this poem from Walt Whitman?
Here is the poem:
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loaf and invite my soul,
I lean and loaf at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
My tongue, every atom of my blood, formed from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.
Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back awhile sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.
1. In "I celebrate myself, and sing myself," what does Walt Whitman celebrate? Here are the choices:
A) His detachment and individuality.
B) Camaraderie and unity.
C) The meaning of life.
D) The heroism of ordinary people.
2. In "I celebrate myself, and sing myself," Whitman writes; "I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,/ Hoping to cease not till death." Which of these is the best paraphrase of his statement? Here are the choices:
A) I did not begin to live until I was thirty-seven years old.
B) I hope to keep my health until I die.
C) I want to live life fully until I die.
D) My perfect health began when I was thirty-seven.
1 Answer | Add Yours
This is Song of Myself, from Whitman's Leaves of Grass. You see a lot of nature imagery in the poem because it is considered an example of romanticism. Further, there are elements of transcendentalism in it (a prominent movement in 19th century New England that taught, among other things, that man could "transcend" the mundane world, in part by communing with nature). Your choices as to the meaning of the poem are defined in the question, so in this way, it somewhat limits your analysis. Have you been asked merely to choose a, b, c or d or do you have to defend your view?
For the first question, I would choose D over the others. The speaker can be assumed to be an ordinary person celebrating life. He expresses an exuberance for things like the summer grass, his healthy body, the fact that he is finished with school (you can probalby relate to this!) - he is energetic. He has arrived at an age (37) where he can kick back and enjoy life and this, in a sense, he finds heroic.
For the second question, I would choose letter C. While choice B is also true, in my opinion letter C encompasses this answer as well. Taken in the context of the overall meaning, C is a better answer. The ideas expressed before this line give the idea that the poet's life up to 37 has been one of building, trying to arrive, and now that he HAS arrived, he intends to continue living joyfully, enjoying nature, enjoying his good health and being thankful for all of this, hoping that it continues. I think we get the idea that he is "going for it" with gusto as he embarks on the next 37 years.
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