English III Honors
Walt Whitman Essay
America’s has underlying characteristics of freedom and democracy, which has separated it from other places across the globe. Walt Whitman, a famous poet, believed these characteristics make America exceptional and used his words to demonstrate his views of America. He believes that America is a special place that unifies the people living there. Whitman considers democracy as a way to experience the world, that everyone and everything is equal and that it all works as a whole. Walt Whitman reveals his ardor and patriotism for America in his works, Leaves of Grass, “Song of Myself”, and “I Hear America Singing” through his literary devices and structure.
Whitman’s preface to Leaves of Grass emulates his opinion on American democracy through his word choice and symbolism. Whitman uses many metaphors throughout the preface to demonstrate his views. While talking about ancestors, Whitman writes, “that it was fittest for its days… that its action has descended to the…well-shaped heir…and that he shall be fittest for his days.” Whitman understands that as time passes, what is right for one generation may not be right for the next. Even though he says what was helpful in the past might not be helpful in the present, he does recognize that without America’s ancestors, America would not be where it is today. He goes on to describe the greatness America has achieved today by writing, “In the history of the Earth hitherto the largest and most stirring appear tame and orderly” in comparison to America. He is explaining that out of all the extraordinary things recorded in history, all of it is compared to America and consequently falls short. This statement exhibits Whitman’s feelings that America is a superior country because of the greatness that it demonstrates. Furthermore, he writes that America shows “the hospitality which forever indicates heroes.” Whitman declares America’s persona as being a hero, a word that always has a good connotation. America is the self-sacrificing nation that helps others even at the cost of itself. By painting America as a hero that can, or even has to, save other countries, Whitman again reflects his idea that America is superior to other nations.
The poem “Song of Myself” expresses Whitman’s view of America to be unifying through metaphors and diction. He believes that humanity is all connected because it is made out of the same things. Similar to Leaves of Grass Whitman references his ancestors by stating, “My tongue…formed from this soil, this air, Born here of parents born here from parent the same.” The speaker explains that he is a part of the people who came before him. The soil he walks on and the air he uses is still the soil and air that the parents had. The soil in America was where his parents created their legacy, their identity as Americans. This identity the speaker shares with his ancestors is also shared with all the ot...