Walt Whitman

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What is the theme of the poem "Miracles" by Walt Whitman? And how is it related to idealism and truth in life?

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The theme of Walt Whitman's poem "Miracles" is that, although we usually associate the word 'miracle' with an object or event which provokes a sense of wonder, in fact, all of existence, everything that one can see, experience, or know, is fundamentally miraculous in nature. He describes, for example:

Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,

Or animals feeding in the fields,

Or birds,or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,

And summarizes:

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,

Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,

Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,

Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

With regard to this theme's relationship to the question 'truth' in life, Whitman's point here, which permeates much his work, is that the fundamental truth of life is that it is miraculous. Although the poet was well-versed in the Bible from his Quaker upbringing, his poetry is suffused with a sensibility more akin to the pantheistic consciousness of Eastern religions, which find divinity in all of creation.

In response to the question about this theme's relationship to 'idealism,' presumably in opposition to 'truth,' it implies ethical or aesthetic valuations which Whitman never makes. In his non-hierarchical vision, all is equally miraculous.

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