Song of Myself Essay

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In the following excerpt, Birmingham presents "Song of Myself" as the idealization of the potential American being: egalitarian, relational, and loving.

My suggestion is this: religious Americans might profit spiritually from a committed reading of Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself." By a committed reading I mean one in which, having suspended disbelief, readers allow themselves to experience the text as meaningful aesthetic event, bringing to bear only later their critical faith practice.

Whitman, I should warn, was a great poet of experience and the possibilities it contains, but a terrible philosopher. A stanza from the last poem in the first edition (1855) of Leaves of Grass only slightly exaggerates how badly he often wrote when a philosophical mood came upon him:

    Great is justice;
    Justice is not settled by legislators and laws … it is in the soul,
    It cannot be varied by statutes any more than love or...

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This section contains 1,218 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Song of Myself Study Guide
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