The Ideology Features of Walt Whitman

By Peggy Hicks,2014-06-02 15:00
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The Ideology Features of Walt Whitman


    The Techniques of the Stream-of-Consciousness in Virginia Woolf’s Novels

    The Ideology Features of Walt Whitman’s Poetries


    ;Walt Whitman1819-1892is one of the greatest democratic poets of America in 19th

    century. His whole life, especially his most remarkable creative period is the most important time of the South and North War in American history. His masterpiece, Leaves of Grass not only describes his whole life, but also reflects that American life.

    Walt Whitman was born in May 5, 1819. He came from West Mountain village, Long Island. His parents were farmers. They had nine children. Walt Whitman was the second child in his family, and he grew up in Brooklyn. In his grow process, he did many jobs: teacher, printer, editor of newspaper and so on. So these experiences influence the thought of Walt Whitman.

    And there are two men who are worthy to mention----Emerson and Thoreau. Both of them inspired Whitman to finish his masterpiece Leaves of Grass. In Walt Whitman’s old time, he got a bad health. In 1873, he suffered a paralytic stroke, but he still to write. He died on March 26, 1892, and buried a tomb which was designed by himself in Harleight Cemetery, Carden, New Jersey. (Mednick 194-98)

    Leaves of Grass is a great treasure of world culture. The first edition was published in July 4, 1855, after many times of modification the third edition was published. (Li 59) In his work, on the one hand, the writer praises democracy and freedom passionately. He advocates equality for human beings; eulogizes the nature; praises the labors create the world. On the other hand, the poet angrily condemns all the things that violate the democracy. To those oppresses American black people, the writer gives great sympathy and respect. From the poetry, everything in the motherland is beautiful and cutes that stimulate the emotion of their country involuntarily. Whitman’s poetries break the influence of English literature. With the widen realism and thick romanticism, Whitman uses a kind of healthy and time-requires capitalism’s democracy to create a unique way of poetry. Until now, Whitman’s thought has great significance to people’s pursuit and future development. Leaves of Grass is not only a simple poem; but also shows the

    expectation of people. The writer expresses the thought of Myself, the thought of democracy and freedom and so on.



    2. The Thoughts of Walt Whitman

    Walt Whitman is an important poet in the literature first of all. First, When Lilacs last in the

    Dooryard Blooms or Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking or Crossing Brooklyn Ferry is the

    masterpiece in any literature. Second, as an artist, he has the kind of courage and vision upon which new epochs are founded. In 1855 he is the first voice of the revolution which after 1870 sweeps over European literature and much later reaches the United Stated.

    That kind of genius which is uncommon sense makes him know that the time comes for many barriers, welfare and the emphasis on the individual. Thus, in advance of the new psychology he insists on the unity of the personality and the significant importance of all experience. He extolled the values of the common, the miracles of the mouse, the wholesome soundness of the calloused hand, and the body’s sweat. He attempts “to make illustrious” the “procreative urge of the universe,” or of human sex. (Chu 197)

    Walt Whitman is important to our literature. First of all he is a great poet. He was born in a common family. Because his family is poor, he studies by himself. In order to help his family, he did a lot of jobs, such as a child labor, apprentice, typographical worker, country teacher, even newspaper editor and so on. It is nothing but the hard condition that makes Whitman toughness and generous characters. It also enlarges his knowledge which makes solid foundation for his later creation. So the set forms his thoughts of democracy, freedom, and so on.2.1 The Idea of Myself

    It is no coincidence that Whitman is the poet of self-praise. Leaves of Grass is a poetry

    which mainly sings the praise of them. He believes that there is not only the physical-self, but also spirit-self. He is the first poet who commends the human body. He thinks the body not only full of vitality, but also no shortage of the noble soul. Such as, a poetry in I Sing the Body

    Electric which he write: “The love of the body of man or woman balks account, the body itself balks account / That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect”. (9 - 10) But seeing from the wholly poetry, the paper can see the balance of the body and the spirit. Basically he argues that the body and spirit are indivisible and equal. He says in Song of Myself:

    Lack one lacks both, and the unseen is proved by the seen,

    Till that becomes unseen, and receives proof in its turn. (24-25)


    The Techniques of the Stream-of-Consciousness in Virginia Woolf’s Novels

    I believe in you, my Soul---the other I am must not abase itself to you;

    And you must not be abased to the other. (1-2)

    Because his view of world is based on the human, Whitman thinks that the self most urgent need is to establish the emotional connection with others. For instance, he describes the love between sweethearts; the love between friends; and love between the family members, and so on. Besides he founds that the love for human beings transcends all races, classes... So he believes that general love provide the sources of great philosophy and religion. Facing the future, he appears the extraordinary confidence. Whitman thought present is the converge point of the past and future. Only when the people enjoy the life actively, or when the people in economy, politic, society, and the active of culture actively, can the people have the most successful, the strongest love. Moreover, people must talk about the relationship between nature and themselves. First of all, the love of nature is the stretch of man’s affection. The most important is immortal of self made by the cycle of nature. The grass is the symbol of the process in Whitman’s poem. Thus self is immortal in both body and spirit. Song of Myself is not a normal poem, but also a life


    In Song of Myself the “grass” and “me” are the most important imagery of poetry. The themes have two conceptions which possess the American nation’s characters, and the democratic idealization. Further more the “grass” and “me” are the new images of the U.S.A. Whitman sings the beauty of soul, and the beauty of body by extolling self. He wants to express the ideas which are the great quality of human beings, the harmonies between people and nature, the great power of life, endless creative, and the optimistic spirit about the future. For instance in the Song of Myself:

    I celebrate myself, and sing myself,

    And what I assume you shall assume,

    For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

    I loaf and invite my soul,

    I lean and loaf at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

    My tongue, every atom of my blood, formed from this soil, this air,

    Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their

    parents the same,



    I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,

    Hope to cease not till death.

    Creeds and schools in abeyance,

    Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,

    I harbor for good or bad, and I permit speaking at every hazard,

    ;Nature without check is original energy.1-13

    2.2 The Thought of Peace in the War Poem

    Another important growth stage of Leave of Grass is war poem. That is the birth of Drum-

    Taps. In the poems he expresses aspiration of freedom, democracy. He supports the war of justice, and the condolences to the soldiers. Although he does not express the aspiration of the war and the peace directly, the people still can feel his emotion. In Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, the

    poet describes the alert time after the coming of the war, and all the kinds performance of the Manhattan. He puts the Manhattan as a theatre, using the change of the music to describe performance after the war. He puts the drum and flute as the war’s urgency and spectacular. Manhattan inspires the citizens to fight for their freedom and democracy bravely.

    Walt Whitman, a cosmos of Manhattan the son,

    Turbulent, fleshy, sensual, eating, drinking and breeding,

    No sentimentalist, no stander above men and women or apart from them,

    No more modest than immodest.

    Unscrew the locks from the doors!

    Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!

    Whoever degrades another degrades me,

    And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.

    Through me the afflatus surging and surging, through me the current

    and index.(1-9)

    This poem writes about American civil war, it reflects the real sight of the war. Whitman encourages the soldiers and the citizens to fight the enemies, moreover to protect their homes.

    Though the Beat! Beat! Drums! Whitman expresses his passion to upsurge when heard the

    good news of the front:


    The Techniques of the Stream-of-Consciousness in Virginia Woolf’s Novels

    Leave not the bridegroom quiet--no happiness must he

    Have now with his bride;

    Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, plowing his field or gathering his grain;

    So fierce you whirr and pound, you drums--so shrill you bugles blow. (3-6)

    In this excellent work which calls the good work to inspire fighting spirit. The songs of drums and trumpet become the means of soldiers fighting for the enemy courageously. Whitman conveys the national sense of crisis; calls the people’s voice. The war poetry of Whitman records the glorious history of American Civil War; describes a magnificent picture; sings a soul-stirring song of time. His poem is full of fresh feeling. He believes that the life is a living thing in the nature rather than the precision of the ancient building. This view is reflected lively in the poems.

    However, Whitman not only describes the magnificent sight, but also writes the minute emotions. He writes the scene of parting when the son goes to the battle field. Or the other heroes step forward bravely when the nation’s existence is in peril. Both of them encourage the people to go to the battle field for maintaining unity and stability. Of course when the young disappear in the battle, their kind parents can’t see their sons any more. Besides the Whitman, the man who has a rocky heart will be moved. He shares hardships and difficulties with the most people. In Come up from the Fields, Father has such lines:

    All swims before her eyes---flashes with black---she catches the main words only;

    Sentences broken---gun-shot wound in the breast, cavalry skirmish, taken to hospital,


    By day her meals untouched---then at night fitfully sleeping, often waking,

    In the midnight waking, weeping, longing with one deep longing,

    O that she might withdraw unnoticed---silent from life, escape and withdraw,

    To follow, to seek, to be with her dear dead son. (1-9)

    Whitman is an unbridled and gentle in character. His poems always have a strong influence. When the people read the sorrowful words, the people feel very sad. May be that is the charm of artistic.

    2.3 The Thought of Democracy and Freedom

    Democracy and Freedom are the significant thoughts in his work. There are two sources of



    Whitman’s democracy and freedom thought. When he was young, he listened to the talks from his family’s guest Thomas Paine many times. The latter’s radical democracy tendency, and idea of the Utopian Socialism gave Whitman’s deep influence. Thus he decided to become a democracy soldier like Paine. When he grew up, the movement of Transcendentalism rises, he was fascinated by Emerson’s speaking. Then he loved the nature and the normal toiler than before, moreover strength the position of democracy.

    In the development of American’s culture, the nation has no unified ideology, but with the development of nation’s growth, the American forms a widely recognized which is Freedom. Whitman gets with the times, so he writes the Leaves of Grass. The grass is not only a plant, but

    also represents the democracy and freedom. Because the grass’s life is endless, it can explain the human’s quality and spirit. In I Hear American Singing, he writes:

    I hear American singing, the varied carols I hear,

    Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,

    The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,

    The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,


    Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,

    The day what belongs to the day--at night the party of young

    fellows, robust, friendly,

    Singing and opening mouths their strong melodious songs. (1-11)

    This poem is famous for its national emotion and the deep humanitarian. He describes varies of labors. He writes the beauty of work, and the beauty of workers. He puts labors as his poem’s theme that is extraordinary in American literature, even as in the world literature. In the

    thend of 18, the U.S.A begins the Western Development. Whitman also throws himself into the western development. He writes a poem The shapes arise! It reflects this event:

    The shapes arise!

    Shapes of factories, arsenals, foundries, markets;

    Shapes of the two-threaded tracks of railroads;

    Shapes of the sleepers of bridges, vast frameworks, girders, arches;



    The Techniques of the Stream-of-Consciousness in Virginia Woolf’s Novels

    The shapes arise!

    The shape measured, saw, jacked, joined, and stained.


    This poem describes the national development and constructs the western frontier. The axe in the poetry actually is the symbol of the American, the symbol of pioneering spirit. The labors use axes to develop the forest, to build the houses, to construct their home, to create the image of pioneer. Meanwhile Whitman writes the American spirit: be brave to take a risk, be brave in pioneering, and to earn their own living by themselves. In the last two lines of Song of the

    Broad-axe, he writes the American democracy and the beginning of democracy. In his opinion, the democracy is omnipresent and ever-victorious. It seems as the nature rules, however it is stronger than any rules in the world.

    The idea of “national and democracy” is the spirit in the Leaves of Grass. But before the

    American civil war, the discrimination between different races is very serious. Most Black people becomes the slave, they loses their freedom, so basically they can not have the civil rights. In that background, Whitman expresses his opinion of democracy in the public, and calls the people to fight for the Helotism. In 1861, the American civil war is broken. He knows that his work Leave of Grass is the outcome of the national war.

    Besides the thought of democracy embodies, eulogizes the common people. He was born in the common family, so he has the deep feeling with the common. In Whitman’s Leaves of Grass,

    ththere are many lines to show us the magnificent scene in 19 century of American society. That

    is against Helotism to praise the common people; from sustaining of the American civil war to eulogize the western development. Thus it calls the first poem about the nation, and it is very significant in the U.S.A.

    2.4 The thought of the Forbidden Fruit

    About the comment on Whitman, a lot of writers think that he is an obscene poet, that because of the description about the “sex”. In his work he divides three stages of the human development---Autophilia, Homosexuality, Heterosexuality. He writes the relationship between people and themselves, man and woman, man and man actually they are the status, love, and friendship. So the paper can find them in Song of Myself, Children of Adam, Calamus. These



    give the foundation of the “sex”.

    First, the Song of Myself, is the best work. Just like Malcolm Cowley said in the first edition of the preface: “I think that the Song of Grass should be called have the creative prediction work

    in the west world.”(Cowley 11) The five poems in the Song of Myself, through the combine of

    sex to enter the mysterious world:

    Loaf with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat,

    Not words, not music or rhyme I want, not custom or lecture, not even the best,

    Only the lull I like, the hum of your valued voice.

    I mind how once we lay such a transparent summer morning,

    How you settled your head athwart my hips and gently turned over upon me,

    And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue

    to my bare-script heart,

    And reached till you felt my beard, and reached till you held my feet. [...](20-28)

    Because of the happiness, he puts the poem and spirit together. This is a sex experience of his body and spirit which are lead to his inner love. After this combination Whitman achieves the peace and knowledge. Then, Whitman writes “the skeleton of creative is love”. (Cowley 11) Here, he implies that he will write the poem like Children of Adam, Calamus. He wants to pass

    his love to women, even men. In his opinion, he feels the body have priority than spirit. The awaked or realization of sex is reflected in twenty-eight poem, which through the contact of the body to express the love of myself:

    Is this then a touch? Quivering me to a new identity,

    Flames and ether making a rush for my veins,

    Treacherous tip of me reaching and crowing to help them,

    My flesh and flood playing out lighting to strike what is hardly different from myself,

    On all sides prurient provokers stiffening my limbs,

    Straining the udder of my heart for its withheld drip, [...] (1-6)

    The information is developed very well; Whitman expresses his opinion with these words. After that, he sinks into the peaceful thinking. These passages express the sense of belonging through the directly contact of body. So from this opinion, the Song of Myself is the song of



    The Techniques of the Stream-of-Consciousness in Virginia Woolf’s Novels

    Next, he studies the sex image of the Children of Adam. First, in this group poem, he

    discusses the image from self to man and women. In the first, he writes: “Content with the present, content with the past, / By my side or back of me Eve following, / Or in front, and I following her just the same.”(10-12)This poem describes a man and a woman. Through the Eve to imply the theme is the love between man and woman. Then in the poetry A Woman waits for

    me, his odes the sex directly, he writes: “A woman waits for me, she contains all, nothing lacked, / yet all were lacking if sex were lacking, or if the moisture of the right man were lacking.” (1-3)This poem is not like the title which gives people some hints. On the contrary, he writes the sex in public, which is to correct the other people’s opinion of women. Walt Whitman expresses the idea of when people treat, discuss, admit and accept the topic of sex reasonable. The woman will be equal to man, or can walk the man’s way, or talk with man, or enjoy the same right with man. In his opinion, talking about the sex in the public is an equal way to treat woman; the sex between man and woman is properly. No the opposite sex love, no human beings. For echo each other at a distance, the author begins with Eve, then ends up with Adam:

    As Adam early in the morning,

    Walking forth from the bower refreshed with sleep,

    Behold me where I pass, hear my voice, approach,

    Touch me, touch the palm of your hand to my body as I pass,

    Be not afraid of my body. (1-5)

    This poem implies another group of poetries about man’s love which is the Calamus. When

    Whitman writes, he was influenced by the environment in that time. Before the civil war between the same sexes they have the close relationship. However, Whitman is a romantic poet, although he with some young people together, he emphasizes the relationship is physique. He believes that the true friend is gentle and attractive. It can not express by the words, and it makes the people get a higher realm. For instance, the first poem In Paths Untrodden he writes like this:

    Afternoon this delicious Ninth-month in my forty-first year,

    I proceed for all who are or have been young men,

    To tell the secret my nights and days,

    To celebrate the need for comrades. (15-18)

    Here, Whitman tells readers that he doesn’t praise the love between man and woman any


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