Walt Whitman: Homoeroticism in Leaves of Grass Essay

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Leaves of Grass is Walt Whitman’s life legacy and at the same time the most praised and condemned book of poetry. Although fearful of social scorn, there are several poems in Leaves of Grass that are more explicit in showing the homoerotic imagery, whereas there are several subtle – should I say “implicit” – images woven into the fabric of the book. It is not strange, then, that he created many different identities in order to remain safe. What Whitman faced in writing his poetry was the difficulty in describing and resonating manly and homosexual love. He was to find another voice of his, a rhetoric device, and his effort took two forms: simplified, and subverted word play.
The first was to understand and render the experience in
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The difficulty is, however, that there is no language of sexuality by which this knowledge can be conveyed.
As seen above, the majority of homoerotic images is concentrated in a cluster of poems titled Calamus. It is noticeable that Whitman tried to express his sexuality directly, but ended up fabricating “a persona that obscured his true nature” (Bergman 387), thus it is only a bit more particularized than Song of Myself. In The Base of All Metaphysics the lyrical subject speaks of “the attraction of friend to friend” (Whitman 141), the Socratic notion of love, and it is this kind of love that Whitman seems to be most interested in.
Worth mentioning is that in Whoever You Are Holding Me Now in Hand, for example, Whitman has abandoned his mission to be the bard of democracy and took on his own private voice. According to Davidson, “He has become assertive, even arrogant: the ordinary reader is, as it were, pushed aside” (55), and the reader is supposed to understand it deeply, fully, or understand nothing at all. In the middle of the poem the lyrical subject challenges the reader: “Here to put your lips upon mine I permit you, / With the comrade’s long-dwelling kiss or the new husband’s kiss, / For I am the new husband and I am the comrade” (135).
Another poem interwoven with homoeroticism is To a

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