Walt Whitman

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How would you describe Whitman's poetic voice?

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Verdie Cremin eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Walt Whitman’s poetic voice displays a number of memorable and characteristic features, including the following:

  • self-confidence
  • plain-spokenness
  • enthusiasm
  • celebration
  • joy
  • idealism
  • patriotism, but not in a narrow, jingoistic sense
  • a concern with both the inner and outer, the self and the world
  • originality of thought and particularly of expression
  • frankness
  • honesty
  • a tone of friendship and affection

Perhaps the most helpful way to get a sense of Whitman’s voice, however, is to actually listen to it carefully as it speaks – as, for instance, in the following excerpt from the very beginning of Leaves of Grass:

One's-self I sing, a simple separate person,

Yet utter the word Democratic, the word En-Masse.

Of physiology from top to toe I sing,

Not physiognomy alone nor brain alone is worthy for the Muse, I say

the Form complete is worthier far,

The Female equally with the Male I sing.

Of Life immense in passion, pulse, and power,

Cheerful, for freest action form'd under the laws divine,

The Modern Man I...

(The entire section contains 565 words.)

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