Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Specimen Days

Nature and Democracy – Morality

I am not sure whether these entries follow a chronological order or not, but it seems that the title of this entry captures the entire essence of Whitman’s Song of Myself.  Much like Sandburg’s poem Chicago, Whitman catalogues the often-overlooked features of society as a whole. The workers, wives, and runaway slaves. My initial reading of the poem leads me to believe that Whitman seeks a balance between all things that inhabit earth. The first balance he mentions is that between the poet and the reader as he opens his poem by stating that “For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you” (1). Similarly, Whitman begins this entry by exerting that “democracy most of all affiliates with the open air, is sunny and hardy and sane only with nature” (926). I believe that the openings the two texts reveal Whitman’s agenda. In Song of Myself, I believe Whitman is speaking to the individual man. Whereas, in the text from Specimen Days, I believe Whitman is addressing the collective identity of man: specifically, working-class men who are the backbone of his America.

Whitman goes on to demand rights for the working-class founders of his America by suggesting that they “must either be fibred, vitalized, by regular contact with out-door light and air and growths” (926). The duality of this passage mirrors the duality throughout Song of Myself.  Whitman could have been referring to workers-rights or becoming a vegan. Ultimately, Whitman reveals his goal as being “to bring people back from their persistent strayings and sickly abstractions” (926). I believe that Whitman sought to have readers of Song of Myself give glance to the simple but wonderful things that we overlook daily.  

1 comment:

  1. Yes . .this seems to relate to all the talk of "health" in Song of Myself . . . not just physical health, but a kind of moral or spiritual health - - of the kind W doesn't associate with labor or factories etc.