Please explain the lines " Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am ; Stands amused, complacent ..... unitary." 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

After listing a few dozen of the individual events that happen to people every day (“the pulling and hauling”), Whitman says “The events of the day are not Me—they come and go; they are experiences, but they are not Me.”  Whitman is saying we are not merely a collection of worldly events and experiences, that our Essence, or Soul, or Self is something more, something that transcends mere three-dimensional “living” on the planet for four-score and ten years.  We are more than the sum of our experiential parts.  The entire poem or “song” is a proclamation of this transcendental truth, that we are not merely our senses, our three-dimensionality existing in Time and Space. It is difficult to separate the “I” from the world (see Kant and Ouspensky), and logicians and scientists are constantly trying to say we are simply the sum of our experiences and DNA, but Whitman is singing the song of the Self outside phenomenology, “amused, complacent…unitary”,  “Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.”

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial