Whitman and Democracy
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. The dominant theme of this poem is Whitman's dedication to establishing the role of self and its place within nature, life and the universe; democracy and equality for all
In the edition of 1856, Whitman used the title "Poem of Walt Whitman, an American", which was shortened to "Song of Myself" in the 1860 edition. The poem was divided into fifty-two numbered sections in the 1867 edition. The purpose behind such behavior in the continual editing of Song of Myself; we as humans are constantly changing and evolving, and this constant change to his poem acts as the evolution of ourselves as individuals. 52 weeks in a year, 52 cantos, 1 canto per week, the new American way to live.
In the opening line of Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” it becomes immediately evident that his song is not about himself, but about the entire human race: “I celebrate myself, and sing myself / and what I assume you shall assume / for every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you”. (Whitman) The meaning of his poem is best expressed in a quote from the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” (Independance Hall Association) Whitman’s “Song” is influenced heavily by this belief, but also makes its claims even more radical; it is not only a re-declaration that men of all social classes should be held in equal importance, but goes beyond the original...