Many critics believe that Whitman’s poetry celebrates the democratic spirit and human equality. What evidence in section 16 of "Song of Myself" do you find to support this interpretation?

Whitman celebrates the democratic spirit and human equality in section 16 of "Song of Myself" by personally identifying with a long and contrasting list of groups, types, and places.

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Walt Whitman celebrates democracy and egalitarianism through the sweeping, inclusive litanies that characterize his poetry and give it rhetorical force. Section 16 in "Song of Myself " is a particularly fine example of this style. The poet begins by identifying himself with a series of opposing groups: the old...

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Walt Whitman celebrates democracy and egalitarianism through the sweeping, inclusive litanies that characterize his poetry and give it rhetorical force. Section 16 in "Song of Myself" is a particularly fine example of this style. The poet begins by identifying himself with a series of opposing groups: the old as well as the young, the foolish as well as the wise. By the third line, he even refuses to be constrained by sex, being "Maternal as well as paternal." Having claimed to be "One of the Nation of many nations," Whitman becomes more specific about the myriad types with whom he identifies. With insistent anaphora emphasizing the point, he claims to be "A Southerner soon as a Northerner," a Kentuckian, a Louisianian, a Georgian, "a Hoosier, Badger, Buckeye," at home with and a comrade of all manner of men and women.

Later, in section 51 of the poem, Whitman is to make his famous claim:

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
Section 16, and many other passages of the poem, demonstrate that this idea of multitudinousness is not mere vanity. Whitman contains multitudes because he accepts everyone and everything with the same joyous exuberance, refusing to condemn any part of humanity as alien or beneath him. When, at the end of Section 16, the poet asserts that he is "not stuck up," readers are compelled to agree.
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