Imagine you are a Puritan writer say, Anne Bradstreet or William Bradford. Through a time machines, you are given a copy of Whitman's “Song of Myself.”  Describe your reactions to the passage...

Imagine you are a Puritan writer say, Anne Bradstreet or William Bradford. Through a time machines, you are given a copy of Whitman's “Song of Myself.”  Describe your reactions to the passage below:

"Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass,
I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign'd
by God's name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe'er I go,
Others will punctually come for ever and ever”

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think that the initial reactions to the Puritan writers like Bradstreet and Bradford would be to suggest that what Whitman sees as his reality outside of God is actually one that God creates.  The fundamental dispute that exists between writers like Bradstreet and Bradford and Whitman in terms of the view of the divine would be that what one sees as the "daily divine," the other sees as having been created by it.  In Whitman' assertion that "the day" has divine reflections, Bradstreet and Bradford would argue that such reflections are created by the divine.  In extolling them, one actually pays homage to the God that created them.  Bradford's belief in God played a vital role in everything he did, to the point that Bradford believed the expansion and development of the Pilgrim community was something ordained by the divine, which means that all extensions of it are extensions of the divine.  In this, Whitman's point that everything he sees is divine would be countered.  When Bradstreet talks about the force that "gave and took," I think that she would use that to suggest that everything that Whitman sees as divine in its daily form is actually something that God has given to human beings.  In this, I think that a healthy debate would transpire between Whitman and the Puritan writers in their fundamental assignment about the place and purpose of the divine in daily life.

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