Walt Whitman and Isadora Duncan imagined the human body in different ways. Both admired the body for numerous reasons, and interpreted it according to their viewpoints. For example, Walt Whitman prizes the body most for its generative qualities. Duncan, on the other hand, adores the body for its physical distinctiveness, characterized by Greek antiquity. However, she also incorporated the "American" qualities of the body into her dances as well. In the following paragraphs, I will be comparing Whitman's and Duncan's views of the body, as well as their shared outlooks.
In the fifth and sixth sections of the poem, I Sing the Body Electric, Whitman examines first the female and then the male body, praising both for their "sacred" status. The woman is much more strongly associated with reproduction: she is "the gates of the body, and
the gates of the soul (I Sing The Body Electric, 25-26). The man is more a figure of "action and power", although he too is associated with propagation. In the small anecdote of the "common farmer", the farmer is portrayed through the eyes of his children who "love him." While the love of the children is not presented erotically, it suggests the erotic side of the poet, who longs to "sit by him that (I) and he might touch each other (I Sing The Body Electric, 31-32). The ability
of this simple man to build a sort of dynasty seems to be what attracts Whitman. The farmer represent the typical "simple life", that is characteristic of American qualities. Whitman emphasizes the uncomplicated, content life of American families through the farmer and his relationship with his family.
Whitman's view of the body, presents the body in an American manner. In his poem, I Sing The Body Electric, he describes the body in its simplest form, admiring it in its natural state. When he describes "the eyes, the ripples of muscles, the shape of the legs," he is again reflecting the simplicity of Americaness. Through a description of an American rural...
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