What are the major themes and ideas in Song of Myself 10 by Walt Whitman

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In section 10 of Song of Myself, Whitman explores ideas of pastoral life, of being true to the life of a place, of living in such a way as to not deny natural impulses, and also of accepting the moral duties that come naturally to a person.

The section opens with the narrator being "alone far in the wilds", living in perfect natural freedom, hunting and sleeping outdoors. As the poem moves on, the narrator skips from place to place, describing situations where a certain way of life is codified (associated with well-known customs). In each of these situations the narrator recognizes as the simple facts of the rites of that place, almost entirely without any moral or value-oriented commentary.

The life of these places simply is what it is, participating fully in its own nature. (This idea is akin to the notion of dharma in Hinduism, and appears as an influence in many sections of Song of Myself.)

The final part of section 10 depicts the narrator taking in a runaway slave, nursing him and protecting him. This act is not given any moral commentary either and is presented with the same even acceptance and naturalness as are all the other episodes of the section.

Thematically speaking, we can interpet this section as being expressive of acceptance of nature, of individual impulses and of the truth of local customs.



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