February 18, 2013
Diagnostic Essay: Song of Myself
Life is a very delicate and mysterious process. Walt Whitman’s poem Song of Myself exhibits how life should be celebrated and enjoyed accordingly. His optimistic and carefree view of life is easily distinguished through his words. Whitman expressed a love of life as well as his easygoing mood when he composed this poem. Moreover, his writings are referring to enjoying life, the similarities between all living things, and enjoying life until death is upon him.
“I Celebrate myself, and sing myself, and what I assume you shall assume,” (Whitman 1-2) is the way he starts his poem, giving insight to the welcoming mood portrayed throughout Song of Myself. The act of singing in many cultures is a form of celebration and he is celebrating life through poetry. Although this seems very arrogant to celebrate oneself, he is merely enjoying life and the act of being alive. His ability to invite the reader in when he writes “and what I assume you shall assume” (2) makes the poem relatable to his audience as a whole. The mood is set for the rest of the poem to be read as merriment through the act of celebrating life.
Human beings are all created equally, meaning they have the same type of substances or building blocks to form said persons. “My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air. Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same.” (6-8) In a religious aspect, Christianity teaches that God created Adam and Eve from the soil and that we are all created in the image of God himself. In reference to this portion of the poem Whitman is referring to the similarities that all humans are alike. He is also affirming that no matter how different one might be from another, generation after generation, they are still crafted and conceived from a mother and father, making them equal.
“I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin. Hoping to cease not til death” (9-10) is referring to the good health he is in and his love of life. His desire to live brings out the hope of a long and prosperous life. Whitman is aware that every living thing must die; however, he is content presently and would like to live a happy and full life until he dies. His reference to his age seems to have little value to the present century however; the life span expectancy of a man if that time was drastically shorter than it is today. His view of his life is sacred to him and he plans to celebrate it until his time to perish.
Furthermore, Whitman shows great enthusiasm about life itself in Song of Myself. He celebrates his life as well as all living things through his poem and gives insight to how he will be commending the years to come. He unifies the human race as a whole by explaining that we are all born of parents, like the generations before us and the generations to come. The use of age in reference to health and death signifies his ability to distinguish how he would like to live a long and joyful life. Overall, Whitman has enlightened his readers with an insight to how he plans to celebrate and justify his life as a whole, while inviting others to do the same.