Describe your impression of the speaker in this poem. Is he justified in celebrating himself?
Think about the speaker's view of himself, his view of death, and his relationships with the reader and with others
Whitman's contribution to poetry was not only stylistic--eschewing rhyme and meter--but personal as well. Rather than hiding behind a first-person personal narrator a la the Romantics, or disguising his message in an extended narrative a la the Fireside poets, he chose to give himself, to "sing" himself,his individuality. In a free autobiographical voice, he celebrates his (and, by extension, our) uniqueness, part of the natural universe, not categorized or taxonomized, an individual soul. His love of the present moment, his joyous affinity with nature, his "song of himself" is worth celebrating. This kind of declaration of selfhood is virtually unique in literary history.