When we started this, I was almost relieved because I thought anything would be easier than analyzing the garbage speech that Emerson gave. I can’t believe how wrong I was. The sections seem like they were written by a crack head who thought these ideas should go together because they sound nice. The fact that it’s in free verse makes it even worse. Make it rhyme and have a nice flow to it, or write a fricken novel. Don’t do a mixture of both to try and make yourself sound fancy. The message that Walt Whitman is trying to share gets completely lost because of the confusing presentation of it. When I looked at the sections Alyssa and I were assigned, I thought it would be easy because they were both relatively short. When I actually read them though, I had one big question -why are we reading absolute nonsense? I’d probably still be really confused about it all if Alyssa (aka William) hadn’t been helping me.
I think Whitman’s devotion to a Transcendentalist philosophy makes his writing very positive and hopeful. The focus of a lot of his work is self-improvement, which is a big idea of transcendentalism. In Section 9, I think the important lines are, “The dried grass of the harvest-time loads the slow-drawn wagon,” and “I am there, I help, I came stretch’d atop of the load,/I felt its soft jolts, one leg reclined on the other[.]” He again uses grass as a metaphor for people, like he did in the first poem we read. The quotes have a very laid back, relaxed, positive tone and insinuates that he is apart of the people on the “wagon.” In Section 51, I think the important lines are, “Do I contradict myself? /Very well then I contradict myself, /(I am large, I contain multitudes.) ” This reinforces the idea that Emerson talks about in Self Reliance. He wrote, “Speak what you think now in hard words and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today.” Most people are very against contradictions, but transcendentalists embraced the idea, as long as you said what you truly believe.