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Old 02-20-2012, 07:19 PM   #16
WT Sharpe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Terminator View Post
I'm not too big on poetry
I CELEBRATE myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you....

...I am mad for it to be in contact with me. The smoke of my own breath, Echoes, ripples, and buzzed whispers.... loveroot, silkthread, crotch and vine...


Even folks who aren't big on poetry must get a kick out of that blend of eroticism and egoism. The man is just fun to read.
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Old 02-22-2012, 03:05 PM   #17
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When Whitman first wrote this poem, slavery was a fact of the American culture. There are two places where the poet celebrates the humanity and nobility of the African American. First is his meeting with the runaway slave:

"The runaway slave came to my house and stopt outside,
I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the woodpile,
Through the swung half-door of the kitchen I saw him limpsy and
weak,
And went where he sat on a log and led him in and assured him,
And brought water and fill'd a tub for his sweated body and bruis'd
feet,
And gave him a room that enter'd from my own, and gave him some
coarse clean clothes,
And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes and his awkwardness,
And remember putting piasters on the galls of his neck and ankles;
He staid with me a week before he was recuperated and pass'd north,
I had him sit next me at table, my fire-lock lean'd in the corner."

We see Whitman's compassion for this man. The last line quoted marks the poet out as a contrast to those who hunt the slave.

Not long after that Whitman portrays the strength and nobility of a black worker.

"The negro holds firmly the reins of his four horses, the block swags
underneath on its tied-over chain,
The negro that drives the long dray of the stone-yard, steady and
tall he stands pois'd on one leg on the string-piece,
His blue shirt exposes his ample neck and breast and loosens over
his hip-band,
His glance is calm and commanding, he tosses the slouch of his hat
away from his forehead,
The sun falls on his crispy hair and mustache, falls on the black of
his polish'd and perfect limbs.

I behold the picturesque giant and love him, and I do not stop
there,
I go with the team also."

The key I think is that in making a "Song of Myself" Whitman is incorporating all of humanity in his vision. Only thus can one be truly oneself.

As another poet said

"No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;"
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Old 02-22-2012, 08:34 PM   #18
WT Sharpe
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This one struck me as I was reading it today. I believe he was speaking of a male lover, but the emotions and the humanity he describes are universal.

ARE YOU THE NEW PERSON DRAWN TOWARD ME?

Are you the new person drawn toward me?
To begin with take warning, I am surely far different from what
you suppose;
Do you suppose you will find in me your ideal?
Do you think it so easy to have me become your lover?

Do you think the friendship of me would be unalloy’d
satisfaction?
Do you think I am trusty and faithful?
Do you see no further than this façade, this smooth and tolerant
manner of me?
Do you suppose yourself advancing on real ground toward a real
heroic man?
Have you no thought O dreamer that it may be all maya, illusion?

From Whitman, Walt (2011); Leaves of Grass - Death Bed Edition.

Last edited by WT Sharpe; 02-22-2012 at 08:36 PM.
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