W. Whitman Song of Myself
“Voices of the sexes and lusts….voices veiled, and I remove the veil / Voices indecent by me clarified and transfigured” (17).
Analysis of poetry and the finer details of the literary devices as a whole is probably my weakest area of study as a graduating English major. I chose to enroll in the Whitman class as an opportunity to gain insight on a poet who I believe makes poetry accessible while still defying accepted norms of poetry, such as the use of elevated language, to deliver a poem that has grown into what I believe captures the essence of Americana: namely, freedom.
When the speaker of the poem exerts that he embodies the “voices of the sexes and lusts….voices veiled, and I remove the veil” (17), I immediately connected it to my previous reading of W.E.B. Dubois’ opus Souls of Black Folk and the notion that being Black and being American are two opposing ideologies. Whitman attempts to deconstruct this notion by suggesting that he “see (s) and hear(s) the whole” (28). I believe that by making this assertion, amongst many similar others, Whitman is stating that he has fused the projected self-image and the actual image. Whereas the veil that Dubois hinted at served as obstacle that stood in the way of Blacks achieving the so-called “American dream,” Whitman claims to be able to lift that veil. Furthermore, in the utopian world of Song of Myself, Whitman claims to be able to take “voices indecent” and “by me (referring to himself) clarified and transfigured” (17). Wonderful Whitman translates the broken English of runaway slaves, nurses them back to health and can hear, see and relate to all things. Lets all assume the “Tebow” position!
Don’t get it twisted. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Whitman and his “high hopes.” In fact, if he were alive today, I’d bet dollars to donuts that President Obama would have him somewhere on his staff. Hope. Whitman provides a sense of hope in Song of Myself by suggesting that the poet is everyman. Obama used it as a platform to be elected as president of the United States. Ultimately, race is still a dividing factor in the United States despite how many people have read and supposedly been changed by Whitman’s poem. The same will be said following Obama’s presidency. However, we can all hope that things will change and we all will be able to sit back and observe, drink or draw leaves of grass.