What is the meaning of section 1 in the poem "Song of Myself"?

In section 1 of the poem “Song of Myself,” Whitman means that he is going to celebrate himself. In doing so, he will not just be celebrating himself but the whole of humanity. As he is an intrinsic part of humanity, celebrating himself automatically means that he celebrates humanity too, and this goes vice versa.

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From the first line, Walt Whitman makes it clear that he plans to celebrate himself in his poem. The introductory section also evokes the classic invocation of the muse found in epic poems such as The Iliad, The Odyssey, Paradise Lost, and other such epic poetry, only here the muse is Whitman himself rather than God, many gods, or even the muse. He does not seek outside himself for inspiration but within.

This introduction might initially strike the reader as overly arrogant and self-congratulatory, but Whitman further claims, "For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you," which clarifies the grand scope of his creative intentions. This will not be a poem specifically about Walt Whitman as an individual but a poem about all human beings.

He is equating himself with the reader and, truly, the whole of humanity. The purpose of the poem is to highlight this unity. By singing of himself, he plans on singing of everyone else as well. When the poet speaks of having parents and then of their parents having parents and so on, he is touching upon the cyclical nature of existence as well as showing how he has an experience shared even with ancestors he has never known. In essence, all are connected, and so his poem can touch upon universal ideas.

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It may seem a little disconcerting to find Whitman openly proclaim in section 1 of “Song of Myself” that he’s going to celebrate himself. On the face of it, it just seems so incredibly arrogant and self-regarding. But in celebrating himself, Whitman is also, by extension, celebrating humanity, of which he feels himself to be an intrinsic part.

He illustrates this point in the third line by stating that every atom belonging to him belongs to us also. Once Whitman has identified himself with us and the rest of human society to such a considerable extent, he’s then in a position to invite us to assume that what he assumes throughout the poem, we shall also assume.

Right from the start of the poem, Whitman is breaking down the walls between himself and his audience, between author and reader, as part of an attempt to get us to empathize with him and his concerns. In fact, he wants us to see that we have no discrete concerns as such; we are all part of the same cosmic whole, and what affects any of us also affects everyone else.

Even if we can’t quite bring ourselves to indulge in the kind of self-celebration that Whitman enjoins, we can at least sit back and enjoy the poet’s performance as he celebrates both himself and us.

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For the speaker of "Song of Myself," his self and the universe are one and the same. While he articulates his own specific privileges and joys, such as being "thirty-seven years old in perfect health," he does not only celebrate himself. The speaker of this poem revels in the unity of all things, not only of his exquisite existence but of all people "born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same." He marvels at how these generations of people, including himself, are "form’d from this soil, this air."

The speaker in section I of "Song of Myself" also encourages the reader to tap into and feel the currents of joy generated by this unity of all living things. Consider the last stanza:

Creeds and schools in abeyance, 
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten, 
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard, 
Nature without check with original energy.
What is Whitman saying here? In the first two lines, the speaker acknowledges the existence and usefulness of formal knowledge, profession and education, "creeds and schools." Yet in the last two lines, he turns to something much more invigorating, much more essential. The speaker remains open to the influence of "nature without check with original energy," whether "good or bad." The speaker embraces the unpredictable, raw, and powerful forces of nature—the natural world, human instincts, and the power of one's connection with all else.
 
In these first four stanzas, Whitman's speaker celebrates himself, his connectivity with every other thing in the universe, and the feeling of rejuvenating "original energy" in simply being a living thing.
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This poem is pretty much what the title states it is; it is Whitman writing a poem in which he sings the praises of himself, of his life, of the life that surrounds him, and of the sheer beauty and joy that it is to be himself at this point in time.  It is a joyous, thrilling ode to life.  In section one, he focuses on how he feels blessed to be who he is.  He states, "I celebrate myself and sing myself," to indicate this section will be about rejoicing in who he is.  He goes on to state that he feels so great about himself right now that whatever he believes ("assumes"), everyone else should believe too, because, he says, we are all made of the same stuff ("atoms") and so are all one; because we are all one, we should rejoice the same.

He states that he finally begins to rejoice, being made of the same stuff that his parents and their parents were made of, and that at age 37, he feels ready to feel joy and not stop until death.  He states that he puts all of his previous learning behind him ("creeds and schools at abeyance") and starts new; he will accept all that life gives him, for good or bad, and speak of the beauties of all of it.  He compares this approach to "nature without check with original energy," meaning, like nature, good and bad happens, but it is all energetic and beautiful.

I hope that summary helps interpret that poem a bit for you; good luck!

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