Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass covers many facets of human love, including love of the physical body. Whitman’s book contains many poems that try to embrace the beauty of the human body instead of covering it up. Whitman describes the human form in close detail throughout Leaves of Grass, but one of his poems in particular is especially vivid in detail. In “Children of Adam”, the fourth book of Leaves of Grass, Whitman gives readers a celebratory look at the human form. “I Sing the Body Electric” is one poem in particular that demonstrates how Whitman celebrates the human body through descriptive language of love and the human form and by elevating the human form to something more than a simple vessel for a soul. Whitman uses these techniques to emphasize the idea that mortal human forms are no less magnificent than spiritual bodies.
The first section of “I Sing the Body Electric” emphasizes the notion that the body is something to ...view middle of the document...
He repeatedly uses the listing of this imagery to emphasize that all of the many parts of the human body should be celebrated. He even focuses specifically on detailing everything about the male and female form in part nine by writing lines that detail the elements of the human body. His verses in this section cover “All attitudes, all the shapeliness, all the belongings of my or your body or of any one's body, male or female” (lines 27-28). His unrestrained descriptions of the human body works to emphasize his message.
In part four of the poem, Whitman expresses the joy of coming into contact with the human body that he described in earlier sections. To Whitman, images of human love and the human body are not explicit or profane. This expression is communicated in the verse, “There is something in staying close to men and women and looking on them, and in the contact and odor of them, that pleases the soul well” (lines 7-8). This sensual joy is also expressed in part three of “I Sing the Body Electric”, where he meticulously describes the appearance of farmer he knows and also the delight of being close to that farmer. Whitman is undoubtedly trying to remove negative images of the physical form and show none of aspects of the human body deserve to be scorned. One of his verses specifically articulates this concept by saying, “The man's body is sacred and the woman's body is sacred” (part 6 line 12). In “I Sing the Body Electric”, Whitman does not refrain from detailing the human body but instead attempts to make it an object of admiration.
Whitman intended to celebrate humanity in “I Sing the Body Electric”, and he is successful in elevating the human form in his poem. He uses his techniques of description and listing the merits of all aspects of humanity effectively, and while some of the verses may be considered “graphic” by the reader, they are not vulgar. Instead, the descriptions serve to portray people as they really are and to emphasize the point their mortal forms are something to exalt.
Whitman, Walt. “I Sing the Body Electric.” Leaves of Grass. Project Gutenberg, 2008. EBook. 8 Apr. 2014. .