Literary Response Journal 7
Every time I study Walt Whitman, I am reminded of my two favorite movies. In The History Boys, Whitman’s Leaves of Grass is referenced to by the main character, Hector. While the scene does not go into much detail about Whitman or his poems, the fact the Leaves of Grass is a renowned collection of poetry is mentioned. Dead Poet’s Society, my very favorite movie, tends to go into more detail regarding Whitman. Anyone who has seen the movie will know that the portrait that Keating keeps above his chalkboard in his classroom is of Whitman, himself. In one of the main scenes of the movie, Todd, a shy and quiet boy is brought up in front of the class to create a poem off the top of his head, using Whitman’s likeliness as inspiration. Todd comes up with “A Sweaty Toothed Madman” and shows his classmates how emotional and effective poetry can really be.
Although Whitman may not have been referred to as a “Sweaty Toothed Madman” when he was living, some people may have privately considered him to be mad. He lived a vagabond life and some of his poetry brought his sexuality into question. However, the fact still remains that he is one of the great poet’s in America and part of the literary canon of today.
One poem in Whitman’s collection, Leaves of Grass, is one work that really interests me. “Song of Myself” is the first poem in the collection and shows how an individual can fade away into the abstract idea of “self.” Although I have to keep reminding myself that the “I’ and “self” referred to throughout the poem is not, in fact, Whitman, there are some places in the poem that I can see that Whitman may have intended the “I” and “self” to refer to all. In the line in section one, the speaker states, ““For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.” This shows how the speaker considers himself the same as everyone around him; he is one in the same as the person next to him or the person down the street. The line, ““I am...
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