Walt Whitman's Song of Myself broken down into the elements of character, imagery, language, theme, tone, and form.

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Walt Whitman changed the way poetry is viewed today by

his use of free verse. He was one of the first poets to use

this type of poetry which does not use regular rhyme scheme

and meter. Whitman was not appreciated or admired at first

for using this type of writing. Even though he abandoned

meter and rhyme schemes, he still used many poetic elements,

such as character, imagery, language, theme, tone, and form.

One poem that displays these elements is Song of Myself from

his collection of poems called Leaves of Grass. Just a

single section of this poem will contain all the elements


One aspect of Whitman's character I like most is the

way he uses free verse and doesn't adapt rhyme scheme and

meter, which was the most popular style of writing during

his time. It seems to me that Whitman himself is the speaker

of the poem and I could tell this when he says "It seems to

me more than all the print I have read in my life" (236).

This not only suggests that he is the speaker of the poem

but it also shows the amount of reading he has done. The

speaker uses clear images to describe a horse jockey when he


The negro holds firmly the reins of his horse,

the block swags underneath on its tied-over-chain,

The negro that drives the long dray of the stone-

yard, steady and tall he stands pois'd on one leg

on the string-piece, His blue shirt exposes his

ample neck and breast and loosens over his

hip band (225-227).

I feel that these images suggest that black men are equal to

white men because a horse jockey is somewhat considered a

noble sport and at the time Whitman wrote this, slavery was

still around in the United States.

Through Whitman's diction, his affiliation with nature

is established. This is shown when he says, "My tread scares

the wood-drake and wood-duck on my distant and day-long

ramble,/ They rise together, they slowly circle around"

(237-238). This means that Whitman is possibly in his car or

truck and he yells something and this scares the birds away.

The birds seem to be waiting for Whitman to leave because

they are circling him. The way Whitman talks about nature

indicates that he in some way feels connected with it. The

dominant theme of this poem is Whitman's dedication to

nature and animals. Every stanza in this poem is talking

about either his love for animals or his involvement with


It seems like Whitman is able to understand the

feelings of the animals in the poem and I get the feeling

that he feels sorry for them. Whitman gives the impression

that he cares for the animals when he asks "Oxen that rattle

the yoke and chains or halt in the leafy shade, what is that

you express in your eyes" (235)? Whitman is explaining how

there are oxen that are held together by a yoke and they

seem unhappy.

The form of the poem is very complex. Whitman

completely ignores rhyme scheme and meter. The shape of each

stanza changes throughout the poem. This indicates that

Whitman does not have a particular writing style and that he

is a unique writer. However, this does not consider him to

be a sloppy writer. Even though some lines are lengthy and

may look like a run on, each line is carefully structured

and carries meaning. All of this reflects the type of image

the poet is trying to project. Whitman is considered a

revolutionary writer so it is no surprise that he writes in

free verse and does not commit to the norm.

I feel that Whitman is trying to project his

personality to us in a way that he gets his point across

through his poetry. The denotation of the word personality

is the visible aspect of one's character as it impresses

others. One aspect of Whitman's personality that is visible

to us is his love for animals and nature. As I have stated

before, this is Whitman's prominent theme.

In all this poem...
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