Walt's Whitman's Vision of America in Leaves of Grass

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Walt Whitman’s
vision of America in Leaves of Grass

Valentine
Abbet
 TRAVAIL
DE
MATURITE



Sous
la
direction
d’Anne
Roland‐Wurzburger
 Gymnase
du
Bugnon,
Lausanne
 2012


«I have sung the body and the soul, war and peace have I sung, and the songs of life and death, And the songs of birth, and shown that there are many births. I have offer'd my style to every one, I have journey'd with confident step; While my pleasure is yet at the full I whisper So long!» Walt Whitman, So Long !, Deathbed edition (1892)



2

Walt
Whitman’s
vision
of
America
in
Leaves
of
Grass
 


Contents
 I.


Introduction
………………………………………………………………………….
4
 Starting
point
…………………………………………………..…………..…….….
4
 Short
biography
…………………………………………………………………….
5
 Historical
context
………………………………………………………………….
7
 Thematic
analysis
of
poems
 a. Beauty
of
the
country
……………………………………………………….
8
 b. Democracy
………………..………………………………………….……….
17
 c. War
…………………….…………………………………………………….….
25
 d. Future
generations
………………………………….…………….……….
34
 


II.


III.


IV.


V.

VI.


Overview
………………………………….…………….……………………….….
44
 Personal
comments
………………………………..……………………….….
45


VII.


VIII. Conclusion
……………………………….…………….……………………….….
47
 


IX.


Bibliography
………………………………….……….……………………….….
49
 Acknowledgments
………………………………….……………………….….
50
 


X.

 



 
 
 
 

Original
copy
of
the
first
edition
of
Leaves
of
Grass
(1855)


3


 I.
Introduction


Walt
Whitman’s
vision
of
America
in
Leaves
of
Grass,
TM
2012


Despite
being
one
of
the
most
prominent
American
poets
of
his
time,
Walt
Whitman
 and
 his
 idea
 of
 a
 perfect
 society,
 based
 on
 Democracy,
 justice
 and
 love
 seems
 to
 have
 been
 if
 not
 forgotten,
 at
 least
 generally
 ignored.
 Not
 only
 did
 he
 create
 a
 new
 kind
 of
 poetry
known
as
«free
verse»,
but
he
also
invented
a
new
way
of
seeing
the
world
and
 dealing
with
numerous
issues
our
societies
were
and
still
are
confronted
to.
 There
 is
 no
 doubt
 as
 to
 his
 being
 idealistic
 and
 sometimes
 even
 fanciful
 with
 his
 complete
trust
in
men
and
in
their
ability
or
will
to
change
their
condition.
However
he
 is
certainly
worth
remembering
in
a
time
when
mankind’s
interests
and
concerns
lay
so
 far
away
from
his
ideals.
 While
analyzing
Walt
Whitman’s
poetry
and
reading
his
verses,
it
is
important
to
 keep
in
mind
that
he
was
not
a
politician,
nor
a
philospher
or
essayist
and
therefore
 could
afford
to
disclose
his
human
side.
He
wrote
in
«Song
of
Myself»:
«Do
I
contradict
 myself?
Very
well
then
I
contradict
myself,
(I
am
large,
I
contain
multitudes.)» 

Thus
some
 1

of
his
ideas
might
be
confusing
for
someone
trying
to
read
or
interpret
his
poetry
in
one
 particular
way
or
another.
This
statement
proves
the
poet’s
sincerity
and
acceptance
 that
people,
while
remaining
themselves,
are
bound
to
be
led
different
paths
and
go
 through
various
stages
in
their
lives.
As
much
as
one
wishes
to
follow
a
straight
line
and
 keep
coherent
at
all
times,
being
human
also
means
to
err
and
Walt
Whitman
knew
it.



II.
Starting
point
 After
reading
Leaves
of
Grass
for
the
first
time,
I
realized
that
Walt
Whitman’s
vision
 of
 his
 own
 country
 was
 somewhat
 idealistic.
 Since
 he
 belonged
 to
 one
 of
 the
 first
 generations
 of
 American‐born
 poets,
 he
 thought
 it
 fell
 to
 him
 and
 his
 peers
 to
 avoid
 making
 the
 same
 mistakes
 their
 forefathers
 had
 made
 in
 Europe,
 such
 as
 engaging
 in
 wars
and
having
social
inequalities.
 He
 thought
 that
 people
 were
 willing
 to
 make
 things
 change
 and
 that
 America
 was
 going
 to
 be
 some
 kind
 of
 role
 model
 for
 the
 rest
 of
 the
 world
 to
 imitate,
 like
 a
 second
 chance
given
to
humanity
to
start
over
and
build
a
society
free
from
hatred
and
violence.


1
Whitman,
Walt,
Leaves
Of
Grass.
The
Modern
Library:
NY,
2001.
«Song
Of
Myself»,
page
113,
paragraph
51,
lines
21
to


23.


4


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