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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.
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