Essay on Walt Whitman's Song of Myself
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Walt Whitman's Song of Myself
This paper deals with Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" in relation to Julia Kristeva's theories of abjection--my paper does not point to abjection in the text, but rather the significance of the abscence of abjection. This abscence, looming and revolting, arises from Whitman's attemt to refigure a conception of sublimity which delimits the material which can trigger the sublime moment. Whitman's democracy of the sublime is inclusive of those figures on the American landscape, their lives and voices, which are functionalized into his world. This paper employs the theories of George Lukacs and Julia Kristeva allow the unearthing of the archeological layers of Whitman's text.
The most literal adjective…show more content…
It lies there, quite close, but it cannot be assimilated. It beseeches, worries, and fascinates desire, which, nevertheless, does not let itself be seduced."
The strange elegance of this specter looms in the relief, in the archaic layers of Song of Myself. It is beyond the foregrounded inversive space--at times utopic and sublime, the space is permeated with universal brotherhood, happiness, the "compelled-sentimental"-- that I attempt to delve into, that source from which generates the repulsive, hidden quivering of a text which, though cast out and forced into absence, looms in the shadowed relief. The edification of his text and of his readership is attempted through the construction of an inversive space which refigures the sublime: the apex of the "cultured." I have chosen those moments in the text in which the poet nears the threshold of bordering abject in order to construct his sublime utopian vision. It is here, this marked refigurement where ecstasy occurs, where material which triggers the sublime is the signal of another text; a repulsive reading looms from the absence of abjection
An invocation of the self begins Song of Myself, positioning the text as an edification of the American readership: "I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as god belongs to you" (lines 1-3). Thus Whitman's work joins with the
Show MoreThere 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. Walt Whitman, a lover of nature, tackled these subjects in "Song of Myself" from Leaves of Grass. Another author who does the same is William Cullen Bryant. Though two very different writers with different styles, they share some of the same ideas.
"Song of Myself" is a celebration of life and God. Whitman loved everything imaginable about nature. He loved people, animals, and himself. Throughout this extensive poem, Whitman mentions "red" people (Indians), "negros," butchers,…show more content…
That line sums it up. People are a part of nature. There is a birth, death, and renewal cycle that connects the two.
Stanza six is a simple, believable explanation of death. It starts out in a conversation with a child asking what grass is. The line of answer is "the beautiful uncut hair of graves" (Whitman 2747). When we die, we are buried in the ground. We are returned, in a sense, from whence we came. God did form Adam, the first man, from the earth. William Cullen Bryant says in "Thanatopsis," "earth that nourishes thee, shall claim thy growth, to be resolved to earth again" (Bryant 2673). The earth has now become our home, our resting-place, our lap, "and here you are the mothers' lap" (Whitman 2747). The life/death cycle will continue. The bodies returning to the leaves of grass will now nourish the vegetation. New life will sprout from the earth. In a sense, death does not fully exist. The growth of the grass proves that death does not end a life (Reef 50). Whitman asks and answers what happened to the women, men, and children. "They are alive and well somewhere; the smallest sprout shows there really is no death" (Whitman 2747). "All goes onward and outward and nothing collapses" (Whitman 2748). This serves to justify Whitman's belief that people and nature are connected forever.
A third subject can also be connected to nature, people, and death. God is the creator of all things human, animal, and vegetable. He is