Song of Myself is a part of Walt Whitman’s book Leaves of Grass. Throughout the course of his life, Whitman continuously revised this poem, and today it is considered to be one of his most well-known works. This poem reflects on a wide range of topics, such as transcendental experiences, the notion of universal “self”, the power of human body, and its relation to nature.
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Universal togetherness is mentioned in many passages of the poem, engaging the readers to experience the feeling of belonging to something larger than themselves. The very beginning of the poem demonstrates this with the following lines: “And what I assume you shall assume, / For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you” (Whitman). These lines, as well as many others throughout the poem, transform the idea of “self” that most people have. Whitman’s notion of self expands beyond one’s physical body and egocentric reflections. He shifts the viewpoints from “I” to “you” multiple times throughout the poem, appealing to the reader and conveying his message of universality. The word “myself” in this poem is used to refer to all human beings, implying that every person is a part of the universal essence.
The first twenty-three sections of the poem thus describe the “I” that has absorbed and incorporated all the living forms. In section 24, however, Whitman finally reveals his actual identity, showing that the human body is as important as an omnipresent self. The following lines express his admiration of the human body: “I believe in the flesh and the appetites, / Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag of me is a miracle” (Whitman). He praises the human body, claiming that it is what allows people to experience the connection to the universal self and live in harmony with it, and that one’s soul can only exist when embodied.
Nature is another essential aspect in this poem, and it is presented as an integral part of the infinite life cycle. One example of this is present in Section 6, in which readers explore the idea of grass. In this section, a child comes to the speaker and asks him what grass is. Not knowing how to answer the question at first, the speaker than posits several suggestions. Whitman’s main idea about nature is that the human body is a part of it, the same way nature is a part of every person. The grass, for instance, is seen as the chest of a young man, and many other elements of nature are also personified somehow throughout the poem. The “I” in Song of Myself is constantly adopting new forms, such as the bodies of other people or different natural phenomena; it represents all humanity and every person individually.
To conclude, it can be stated that Song of Myself is arguably the most influential of Whitman’s works. It is the longest poem in the Leaves of Grass book, in which Whitman invites the readers to take part in the wonderful journey through numerous life experiences, exploring various ideas of transcendentalism. Through this poem, he teaches people to see themselves in all the magnificent manifestations of life, from seemingly insignificant and small ones to visibly large and substantial. The poem is an epic celebration of the human body and personal self, interconnected with nature and the cycle of life.
Whitman, Walt. “Song of Myself (1892 Version) by Walt Whitman.” Poetry Foundation, Web.