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
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...