Essence of section 21 of  "Song of "Myself?"What is the essence of section 21 of  "Song of "Myself?"

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e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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This section concerns the "truth in things", as Whitman writes: 

All truths wait in all things...

This section presents the idea that a touch is as important as anything else and that the physical world holds more truth than words. 

Additionally, as mentioned above, there is an interest in the connection of all things, an aspect of the transcendental mode. 

lit24's profile pic

lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Whitman's "Song of Myself" is the most important poem in "Leaves of Grass" (1855).

The main theme of section 21 is the acceptance and celebration of the unity in diversity of both the physical and the spiritual universe: man and woman, earth and sea, full moon and large stars  and most importantly the Body and the Soul.

The section is anti-puritanical and underscores the creed of the Transcendentalists  that the self is sublimated not through avoidance of the physical but through the soleminization of the physical union: "Prodigal, you have given me love-therefore I to you give love!/O unspeakable passionate love."

The section belittles human vanity and its illusory achievements and instead eulogizes a life of close communion with Nature:"Have you outstript the rest.........sea half-held by the night."