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Essay Choosing Sides in Walt Whitman's Song of Myself

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“Song of Myself” is an attempt by Walt Whitman to become the “American poet” as described by Ralph Waldo Emerson; he attempts to be “[T]he sayer, the namer, and [representative] of beauty” (Emerson 1182). Whitman wants to speak to and for America. Whitman does not explicitly choose sides on the slavery debate that was raging at the time of his writing, but he does express the equality of all people, regardless of gender and race in “Song of Myself”. While Whitman’s writing can be read as neutral but “Song of Myself” is, in reality, very anti-slavery and pro-equality.
In “Song of Myself” Whitman attempts to speak on behalf of the entire American population. He tries to pull the reader into a world of many possibilities. Whitman makes a
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The suggestions of equality between all people are not blatant and are not abundant in “Song of Myself” but they do exist, showing that Whitman was not as neutral as most readers are led to believe. He believed in equality.
Whitman uses the grass as a metaphor to imply that all people are connected. Whitman uses the grass to represent things he cannot explicitly name. People are all different, individual, but the blades function together. Everyone is needed to make up the grass; one blade cannot stand-alone. The grass encompasses all of America, regardless of race, gender, or religion. Grass grows everywhere there is water and touches everyone. This is one of the ways Whitman seeks to appeal to everyone through language.
Whitman also seems to be much more anti-slaver than pro-slavery. While he never says explicitly that black people are equal to white people, he does imply it several times. In section six when he is speaking about grass he says, “Growing among black folks as among white” (Whitman 2214). Following the metaphor that the blades of grass are all people, functioning together, this implies that black people were equals in the eyes of Whitman. They too, were just blades of grass, individual parts of the whole American population, growing everywhere they could. Whitman also
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