The Theme Of Democracy In Walt Whitman's Song Of Myself

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Heming Chen American Literature Ms. Crowl 1 December, 2017 I Could Be You The word democracy has its roots in the ancient Greek combination of dēmos, meaning the people, and kratía, meaning power or rule: literally translating as “the rule or power of the people”. To simplify the term further, Democracy is an arrangement in which individuals have similar equality in power. First conceptualized and adopted by the Athenians in fifth century B.C, democracy has made itself to be known as a powerful and popular government model today, in use by over 60% of modern day countries. Walt Whitman utilizes the theme of democracy in his poem, Song of Myself, not only encouraging it as a system, but also as a way of life, seeking unity in all. Although Whitman uses the seemingly singular pronoun “I” in his poems, he is not using the pronoun to signify only himself but also the rest of humanity as a unified entity. Whitman opens his poem with the words “I celebrate myself, and sing myself, / And what I assume you shall assume, / For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you” (1-3). The first line, its meaning initially seeming rather cryptic, becomes more discernable once the universal “I” is employed. It then becomes evident that Whitman is intending his poem to be a celebration of humankind. Interestingly enough, the usage of “sing” in such context almost brings the reader back again to the classics, reminiscent of the epics of old. While all definitions of assume apply for the
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