Essay about Walt Whitman as a Voice for the People

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Walt Whitman as a Voice for the People

"The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as much as he absorbs his country."

This brilliant quote from Walt Whitman thus ends his preface to Leaves of Grass, and thereafter begins the poem "Song of Myself." To many, upon their first reading, this was a crude, shocking and distasteful piece of work. but to me...this was a celebration of life. And not just a celebration of his own life, but of every life, of the American life. Walt Whitman is the "voice of the people" and this I believe because, while he did write of things that were not seen as aesthetically beautiful by many...including homosexuality, loneliness, and death. And while these topics were not picturesque to
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You shall not look through my eyes either....
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself."
(lines 27-29)

I love this line, because itís actually telling people that itís okay to think for yourself. I believe that, here, we can see the coming out of him. Heís speaking for the people...asking them to finally stand taller and think for themselves. This is what I interpreted this line as. Something else that struck me while reading "Song of Myself" and some of the criticisms on it, was what I like to call "The shock factor". I call it this because when this was published, America didnít have much of an identify. It was vast, and searching. Whitmanís poetry seemed to encompass everyone and everything through it. But what's ironic about this is, while Whitman stood as the American voice, finally speaking refreshingly and truthfully...many rejected him. People thought that his style was way to different from what they were used to, and did not understand Whitman. And heaven forbid, his meter was irregular, and his verses did not rhyme! Even Thoreau said "It is as if the beasts spoke". But what came as more of a shock to people was his unleashing of things that were just plain never talked about. Whitman was most certainly one of the first to talk of sexuality, homosexual relationships, lust, and desire, and the more sensual parts of the human body. Although I can see how those who

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