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Song Of Myself By Walt Whitman

1627 words - 7 pages

In his first anthology of poems entitled “Song of Myself”, Walt Whitman reveals some of his views on democracy through the use of symbolism and free verse poetry. His use of symbolism and free verse poetry creates indeterminacy, giving the reader hints rather than answers about the nature of the poem. In the sixth part of “Song of Myself”, a child asks the narrator of the poem, “What is the grass?” (Whitman). Instead of simply giving an answer, the narrator cannot make up his mind, and stumbles on how to explain the grass to the child. Through the use of specific symbolisms, Whitman, as the narrator, explicates his views while remaining under the façade of explaining grass to the child. The views Whitman conveys remain indeterminate and unclear to the reader because the use of various literary devices. However,through the closer analysis of symbolism, free-verse poetry and metaphors, the anti-democratic and possibly anarchist views of Whitman surface.
The prevalent use of metaphors in the poem leaves room for the reader to interpret the narrator’s words while guiding the reader in the general direction of Whitman’s ideas on democracy. The narrator brings up an important thought about democracy when he says that grass is “itself a child, the produced babe of vegetation.” By comparing grass to a child, the narrator effectively conveys to the reader that democracy was created by humans. This takes importance away from democracy giving the reader the impression that since humans created democracy, humans can also take it away. Later on, according to the narrator, the grass seems to be “the beautiful uncut hair of graves,” showing that the grass is being born from death, or that mortality and death are a key part of how democracy functions. The most shocking part of the poem, however, is where Whitman states that “to die is different from what anyone supposed, and luckier.” In this line Whitman seems to be showing his dissent for democracy, advocating that no one knows what would happen if democracy were to collapse, and maybe it would be better (luckier) if democracy were to die. By using metaphors to analogize grass with democracy, grass becomes a symbol for democracy allowing Whitman to convey his opinions on democracy by speaking bluntly about how he feels about the grass.
Along with the use of metaphors, the form of the poem plays an important role in uncovering the views of Whitman. First and foremost, this poem was written in free verse which is a form of poetry that lacks structure. The free verse stucture of the poem is shown in the lack of form in the stanzas of the poem. Some stanzas are six lines long while others are only one, and the lines can be either concise or drawn out. The poem also lacks any apparent rhyming scheme or rhythm. Unlike Shakespearean poetry, where the foot of the poem stays the same, the lack of any apparent structure to the poem leaves the reader unable to predict what is coming next. In addition to this, at the...

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