Song of Myself

When I first read Song of Myself, I was mostly looking for the meaning as it relates to transcendentalism. I saw how he talked about all of us as one and the fact that we all contain some of the same basic soul. I was a little thrown off by the free verse because at first I wasn’t used to reading that style. We have not focus much on free verse in the past. I think this quote especially showed his use of transcendentalism, “A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he.” It shows how transcendentalists believe we do not know the real meaning or goal of nature and that we label and categorize things that are more abstract than they seem. This writing also highlighted how controversial these ideas were of the time period. During a time when religion and the “rules” were held to such a high regard many of these statements must have been earth shattering. Whitman writes, “They are alive and well somewhere, The smallest sprout shows there is really no death, And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it, ” This idea would have been perceived to have challenged the christian belief of heaven in the way people were accustomed to understand it. One thing that did confuse me was Whitman’s discussion of contraction. He seems to think it is not important if he contradicts himself and I find that idea somewhat unsettling. Whenever thinking about topics like these I always try my best not to be hypocritical. How could something contradicting be meaningful or true on a deeper level. I also don’t quite understand the title of the poem itself. I feel like it’s not the best way to sum up what the poem is about, obviously I’m missing something. Is he saying these ideas can only be understood by yourself and practiced through you. Does it have to do with the transcendentalist’s dislike for preachy religion?looking outside of yourself for these answers?

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