The speaker in number 33 observes and participates in several American scenes.Identify the scenes,& describe the emotions they evoke in the speaker.

Expert Answers

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

Like the other response states, the almost infinite scenes Whitman describes in section 33 of this poem are not individually significant. However, each is part of a unified whole. Whitman is trying to convey the universality of existence, regardless if one is animal or man, rich or poor, fortunate or unfortunate.

The repetition of the word “pleas’d” in the middle part of the section indicates Whitman’s affinity for everyone and everything. He uses a series of antitheses in these lines to illustrate his equal admiration for extreme opposites.

There is a shift beginning with the line “I understand the large hearts of heroes,” as Whitman turns his focus to imagining himself in various roles, including that of a drowned sailor, a firefighter, and a slave. Whitman presents himself as empathetic, able to feel all of the suffering of the human soul via these various imagined experiences: a woman burned at the stake for a witch and the “old artillerist” who watches his general die are diverse examples of the types of suffering to which Whitman bears witness.

This section juxtaposes the exultant and the wretched in order to illustrate the unity within the disparate parts of being.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This poetic technique, called listing, seeks to inundate the reader with concrete examples of the same abstract idea, almost exhausting the possibilities, in this case the speaker’s (Whitman’s) musings and reflections on all the scenes and places he has experienced in his travels across the U.S. as he sings the song of himself (“alone and lighthearted I take to the open road”).  The total effect is to give each human experience and observation—the wild and domestic animals mating, the herds moving slowly through their seasonal migrations, etc.—an importance, like bricks in a house, none of which by themselves define a man (and Whitman makes clear that he is more than his earth-bound experiences), but which collectively demonstrate the unity of Nature, and differentiate Man’s place in it.  This technique, emulated by such poets as Carl Sandburg, Allen Ginsburg, and Gregory Corso (in prose, James Joyce was famous for it).  Whitman ends with remembrances of the Civil War, and identifies with its pain and folly.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team