Faculty Mentors

John Sirmans


Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself ” examines the spiritual indivisibility of life through the narration of an all-seeing poet character. The speaker, who calls himself “Walt Whitman” (Whitman 499), exposes himself to the perspectives of the living world in order to present his listener with the gift of unadulterated, empathetic consciousness. Throughout the free-verse poem, Whitman consistently employs direct address and the cataloguing of living personas in short vignettes. His use of these devices establishes a sense of transcendental unity for his audience and is intended to help his audience grow to be conscious in the way that the speaker is. However, Whitman’s choice to directly transform the way his audience empathizes with the living world is not only evidence of his transcendental poetic perspective, but also shows his innovative intent to include as many as possible in his intended poetic audience, a goal that many of his transcendentalist peers did not have in mind.



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