The Self-Expression and the Spirit of America in Walt Whitman’s Poetry

Nov 17, 2017 at Literature Essays

The Self-Expression and the Spirit of America in Walt Whitman’s Poetry Essay

Walt Whitman, one of the most influential American poets, was a very progressive person for his time. His works were as controversial and inrushing as the economical, political and social environment he lived in.  Once, Walt Whitman claimed that there was a close relationship between his self-expression and that of the American national spirit. In true, there are parallels between the poet and the characteristics of America in the nineteenth century. 

“Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman

In order of better comprehending the parallels between the poet and the characteristics of America it would be useful to take a look at Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”. For one thing, the poem is a reflection of a great break from the cultural traditions of the past and the changes that has come. 

Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” has also played the role of helping tool in the process of shaping the idea of what it is like to be an American. The poem proclaims democracy drawing people and places of different kinds in an effort of forging them into a unity. Throughout “Song of Myself”, Whitman meets different people and is eager to be friends with each of them. It is important to pay attention to the fact that the poet wrote his masterpiece few years before the Civil War. At that time, friendship and unity was seen as the last hope on the way of saving the unity of the country.

Three Main Components

Whitman’s identity is split into three main components such as the inner hidden “self”, his everyday personality, and the universal “soul”. However, at the same time, the poet experiences feelings of other living creatures identifying himself with them. Whitman’s identity is connected to the people, animals, plants, nature and the country he lives in.

Whitman feels especial unity with his country,

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air,

Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same (6-7).

“Song of America”

Thus, to Whitman America is something than just a homeland. America is an idea of a perfect place where all people and their jobs are equally important; a place where everybody loves and supports everyone. Whitman’s identity is so close and even inseparable to this idea of America that one could read the title of the poem as “Song of America”. The poet seeks for his identity as well as his country does.

In Walt Whitman’s works, the parallels between the poet and the characteristics of America in the nineteenth century can be easily found. The identities of Whitman and America he lived in are inseparable. The poet found unity in everything and felt himself as a part of the world around him. In such ideal world of Whitman’s identity and the ideal of America, everybody was equally important and free.  

 

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