Sunday, September 11, 2011


     Poetry is always difficult for me to read.  However, I think I got the general idea of what Whitman was trying to say in his poem.  His main argument was that he is in everything and everyone.  There are not that many differences when it comes to the core of what makes up an individual.  This is evident in lines two and three when he refers to the atoms that make up people.  It is also evidenced in lines 327-329 at the very end of the reading.  
     Whitman begins with a discussion of nature that is detailed and very personal to Whitman himself.  This is evidenced in lines twenty and twenty one.  It is obvious that he values nature very highly and longs to be close to it.  This kind of writing is very characteristic of the Romantic age of literature.  I really admire lines 40-43 when Whitman is valuing the present for what it is.  I think that is a very positive, healthy way to live as long as it is not taken to the extreme.  I don't think we as Americans live that way for the most part.  I think we are constantly looking to the future, making money for the future, trying to provide for the future, etc. that sometimes we forget to look at what is right in front of us.
     Similar to Emerson, I think Whitman sees everything as being inherently good.  I see this in lines 134-135.  While I do not personally agree with this view, it is obvious that it was a popular view during the 1800s.  Lines 189-198 reminded me of The Sot Weed Factor but in an opposite view.  The speaker of the poem was nice to the runaway and allowed him up to his level for a couple of weeks which was unheard of during his time.  The speaker here is putting his money where his mouth is so to speak.  Because he believes that he exists a little in everything and everyone, he should be able to be kind equally to everything and everyone.  This idea is further supported in line 307 when the speaker is talking about the prostitute that everyone either looks down upon or makes fun of.  The speaker sees beyond that and sees her as a person-who she truly is.        
     During section six, was Whitman discussing the grass as the nature that it was?  Or was that supposed to be a symbol for something else?  A bigger idea perhaps?  Also, in lines 214-216 is Whitman referring to the mob mentality that was illustrated in Emerson's writing?  


  1. After class today, I just wanted to comment on a couple of things. As to my question about section six concerning the grass writing, I found out that it was simply a characteristic of Transcendentalism writing. The idea that we are in everything and everything is in us is evident in this section through Whitman's discussion of the cyclical pattern of life and how even though it is good to live, it is good to die too because that means that your soul goes on to live in other people or things in nature (lines 131-132).
    I think it is also important to note that the tone in this piece is one of celebration. Whitman is celebrating life and the beauty he sees not only in nature, but also in the people that surround him and the people he comes into contact with in everyday life (section 15).
    Something interesting that we discussed in class today were all the cultural shifts that are evident in this poem. Before even analyzing the poem for deeper meaning, we can see that this poem is breaking away from the norm because it is written in free verse with no rhyme scheme. Whitman is one of the first writers to use it and it conveys to us now that there is less government control and more freedom to simply express yourself. We also discusses section eleven which is also another illustration of the cultural times of the 1850s. It is obvious in this section that women were not completely free to be themselves or even go out as much as men (gender gap). It also suggests that those that are significantly wealthier than those around them are also significantly lonelier than those around them.

  2. I too have always had trouble interpeting poetry. That is why Whitman's took several tries to comprehend.