Images of sexuality in Walt Whitmans Song of Myself

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The poet wishes to maintain the identity of his individual self, and yet he desires to merge it with the universal self, which involves the identification of the poet's self with mankind and the mystical union of the poet with God, the Absolute Self. Sexual union is a figurative anticipation of spiritual union. Thus the poet's ecstasy is both physical and spiritual, and he develops a sense of loving brotherhood with God and with all mankind.

Even the most commonplace objects, such as Leaves , ants, and stones, contain the infinite universe. Whitman's style reflects his individualism. He once wrote to Horace Traubel, his biographer: "I sometimes think the Leaves is only a language experiment. Colloquial words unite the natural with the spiritual, and therefore he uses many colloquial expressions. He is also fond of using foreign words. The catalog is another special characteristic of Whitman's poetic technique. He uses numerous images, usually drawn from nature, to suggest and heighten the impression of a poetic idea.

When his brother and sister-in-law were forced to move for business reasons, he bought his own house at Mickle Street now Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. During this time, he began socializing with Mary Oakes Davis—the widow of a sea captain. She was a neighbor, boarding with a family in Bridge Avenue just a few blocks from Mickle Street.

She brought with her a cat, a dog, two turtledoves, a canary, and other assorted animals. While in Southern New Jersey , Whitman spent a good portion of his time in the then quite pastoral community of Laurel Springs , between and , converting one of the Stafford Farm buildings to his summer home. The restored summer home has been preserved as a museum by the local historical society. Part of his Leaves of Grass was written here, and in his Specimen Days he wrote of the spring, creek and lake.

To him, Laurel Lake was "the prettiest lake in: either America or Europe". As the end of approached, he prepared a final edition of Leaves of Grass , a version that has been nicknamed the "Deathbed Edition". He wrote, "L. Whitman died on March 26, The cause of death was officially listed as " pleurisy of the left side, consumption of the right lung, general miliary tuberculosis and parenchymatous nephritis". Whitman's work breaks the boundaries of poetic form and is generally prose-like. Whitman wrote in the preface to the edition of Leaves of Grass , "The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it.

Whitman was a vocal proponent of temperance and in his youth rarely drank alcohol. He once stated he did not taste "strong liquor" until he was 30 [] and occasionally argued for prohibition. Whitman was deeply influenced by deism. He denied any one faith was more important than another, and embraced all religions equally.

Though biographers continue to debate Whitman's sexuality, he is usually described as either homosexual or bisexual in his feelings and attractions. Whitman's sexual orientation is generally assumed on the basis of his poetry, though this assumption has been disputed.

Walt Whitman

His poetry depicts love and sexuality in a more earthy, individualistic way common in American culture before the medicalization of sexuality in the late 19th century. Whitman had intense friendships with many men and boys throughout his life. Some biographers have suggested that he may not have actually engaged in sexual relationships with males, [] while others cite letters, journal entries, and other sources that they claim as proof of the sexual nature of some of his relationships. Some contemporary scholars are skeptical of the veracity of Whitman's denial or the existence of the children he claimed.

Peter Doyle may be the most likely candidate for the love of Whitman's life.


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Interviewed in , Doyle said: "We were familiar at once—I put my hand on his knee—we understood. He did not get out at the end of the trip—in fact went all the way back with me. In , Edward Carpenter told Gavin Arthur of a sexual encounter in his youth with Whitman, the details of which Arthur recorded in his journal. Another possible lover was Bill Duckett.

Song of Myself

As a teenager, he lived on the same street in Camden and moved in with Whitman, living with him a number of years and serving him in various roles. Duckett was 15 when Whitman bought his house at Mickle Street. From at least , Duckett and his grandmother, Lydia Watson, were boarders, subletting space from another family at Mickle Street. Because of this proximity, Duckett and Whitman met as neighbors. Their relationship was close, with the youth sharing Whitman's money when he had it.

Whitman described their friendship as "thick". Though some biographers describe him as a boarder, others identify him as a lover. Whitman gave Stafford a ring, which was returned and re-given over the course of a stormy relationship lasting several years. Of that ring, Stafford wrote to Whitman, "You know when you put it on there was but one thing to part it from me, and that was death. There is also some evidence that Whitman may have had sexual relationships with women. He had a romantic friendship with a New York actress, Ellen Grey, in the spring of , but it is not known whether it was also sexual.

He still had a photograph of her decades later, when he moved to Camden, and he called her "an old sweetheart of mine". This claim has never been corroborated. Whitman reportedly enjoyed bathing naked and sunbathing nude. Never before did I get so close to Nature; never before did she come so close to me Nature was naked, and I was also Sweet, sane, still Nakedness in Nature! Is not nakedness indecent? No, not inherently. It is your thought, your sophistication, your fear, your respectability, that is indecent.

There come moods when these clothes of ours are not only too irksome to wear, but are themselves indecent. Whitman was an adherent of the Shakespeare authorship question , refusing to believe in the historical attribution of the works to William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon. Whitman comments in his November Boughs regarding Shakespeare's historical plays:. Conceiv'd out of the fullest heat and pulse of European feudalism—personifying in unparalleled ways the medieval aristocracy, its towering spirit of ruthless and gigantic caste, with its own peculiar air and arrogance no mere imitation —only one of the "wolfish earls" so plenteous in the plays themselves, or some born descendant and knower, might seem to be the true author of those amazing works—works in some respects greater than anything else in recorded literature.

Whitman opposed the extension of slavery in the United States and supported the Wilmot Proviso. In , he wrote that the abolitionists had, in fact, slowed the advancement of their cause by their " ultraism and officiousness". Whitman also subscribed to the widespread opinion that even free African-Americans should not vote [] and was concerned at the increasing number of African-Americans in the legislature.

Walt Whitman is often described as America's national poet, creating an image of the United States for itself. Nathanael O'Reilly in an essay on "Walt Whitman's Nationalism in the First Edition of Leaves of Grass " claims that "Whitman's imagined America is arrogant, expansionist, hierarchical, racist and exclusive; such an America is unacceptable to Native Americans, African-Americans, immigrants, the disabled, the infertile, and all those who value equal rights. As George Hutchinson and David Drews further suggest in an essay "Racial attitudes", "Clearly, Whitman could not consistently reconcile the ingrained, even foundational, racist character of the United States with its egalitarian ideals.

He could not even reconcile such contradictions in his own psyche. Because of the radically democratic and egalitarian aspects of his poetry, readers generally expect, and desire for, Whitman to be among the literary heroes that transcended the racist pressures that abounded in all spheres of public discourse during the nineteenth century.

He did not, at least not consistently; nonetheless his poetry has been a model for democratic poets of all nations and races, right up to our own day. How Whitman could have been so prejudiced, and yet so effective in conveying an egalitarian and antiracist sensibility in his poetry, is a puzzle yet to be adequately addressed. Nature and Death in Walt Whitman's Song of Myself words - 3 pages There are many "popular" topics used frequently by authors. Love, religion, and war are some favorites. Two other such topics we typically read about are nature and death. The two can be discussed separately or they can be related to each other.

Another author who does the same is William Cullen Bryant. Though two very different writers. He's saying that the body is not more than the soul, the soul is not more than the body and God is greater than neither the soul nor the body.

Walt Whitman - Wikipedia

Whitman's definition of the soul may not be very clear in "Song of Myself" but it is present, if you look hard enough. According to the words Whitman wrote, his definition of the soul is this: it is clear and sweet - it cannot be one or the other, it. Whitman and Women: "Song of Myself" words - 11 pages Victorian environment of the time, declaring:Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousnessof his sex,Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers.

In "Song of Myself" Whitman describes. On the other hand; it is clear that both in the formal and in the content Whitman uses the prophetic and the sacred, but, it is not less true that its pages are always releasing the ruins of old paradigms, considered by many as sacred. Though they are psychological in nature, they are often applied to people and objects that may not fit into the every day norm. In Emily Dickinson's "Much Madness is divinest Sense," Dickinson criticizes society's inability to accept non-conformist and expresses the belief that it is the majority who.

Tennyson himself remarked after composing the poem that "the glory of war is perhaps best exemplified by the glory of song" Luce Antithetically, the sounds heard in "Beat!


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