In section 1 of Song of Myself, explain following lines: "hoping to cease not till death. Creeds and schools in abeyance, retiring back a while . . ."

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Whitman draws on the tradition of epic poetry, beginning with a declaration in which he seems to depict himself as his own muse (the poem is called the "song of myself," after all) rather than appealing to one of the daughters of Zeus, the traditional muses of Greek storytelling. He needs no inspiration other than himself, and he implies that his exploration of self will, indeed, be epic. He explains his own provenance, the origins of his body and blood, noting his current age of thirty-seven, and he says that he begins his song now, "Hoping to cease not till death"; in other words, he wishes to keep singing until his body dies. When he says, "Creeds and schools in abeyance," he seems to indicate that he will keep various ideologies (ways of thinking) with which he is familiar at bay; they will be suspended, inactive, while he sings. He will not forget them totally, but he will retire them for a time so that he can really focus on himself as the source of his inspiration. He will speak now, "for good or bad" and "at every hazard," of and for himself.

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In the opening lines of this epic poem, Whitman is declaring his intentions (cf. Virgil’s “Of arms and the man I sing”)—he is going to “sing” this poetic song of himself for the rest of his life; that is, he is here beginning a life-long project (“hoping to cease not till death”) of expressing his inner-most self in words.  He also states that it will not be merely a reflection of what he has learned from others (“creeds and schools in abeyance”), although those influences will be acknowledged as he sings, but that his reaction to nature will be always expressed—he will sing from his soul, but his mind (thinking) will enter in as part of who he is.  It is a beautiful introduction to his life-work, a statement virtually empty of guile and device, but full of sincerity and self-exposure, “transcending” the duplicity of normal existence, partly reflective and partly looking forward.  It is difficult to paraphrase, because it is perfectly expressed in the very stark admission of the lines.  Here is a man declaring himself.

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