Lebanese University – English Department
Professor: Dr. Sámi Baghdash – Student: Marie-Rose Zeenny
Session 11 - Tuesday March 20, 2007
? The American Scholar:
“The present generation”, Emerson had written in his journal, “is bankrupt of principles and hope, as of
property”. Our day of dependence, our long apprenticeship to the learning of other lands draws to a close. [Independence of USA from Europe and England in particular]
Man is not a farmer, or a professor, or an engineer, but he is all. Man is priest, and scholar, and statesman, and producer, and soldier. [He considers that man is all and that even God roosts deep in love of man]
In this view of him, as Man Thinking, the theory of his office is contained. Him nature solicits with all her placid, all her monitory pictures; him the past instructs; him the future invites. [He is focusing on value
To Emerson, three factors can influence man’s mind namely: 2. Books 3. Action
1. Emerson thinks that man should always be creative like Nature, because Nature is always in
a state of progress and continuity. To the scholar, there should be no beginning and there
should be no end to the continuous web of God. He thinks that everything in nature is
beautiful and its beauty is the beauty of man’s mind.
The first in time and the first in importance of the influences upon the mind is that of nature.
Every day, the sun; and after sunset, the night and her stars.
There is never a beginning; there is never an end, to the inexplicable continuity of this web of
god, but always circular power returning into itself. Therein it resembles his own spirit,
whose beginning, whose ending, he never can find, so entire, so boundless. [He draws the
resemblance between man and nature.]
He shall see that nature is the opposite of the soul, answering to it part for part. One is seal
and one is print. Its beauty is the beauty of his own mind. Its laws are the laws of his own
mind. Nature then becomes to him the measure of his attainments. So much of nature as he is
ignorant of, so much of his own mind does he not yet possess. And, in fine, the ancient
precept, “know thyself”, and the modern precept, “study nature”, “become at last one
maxim”. [How much Emerson’s transcendental school brought man and nature together?]
nd2. The 2 influence on the spirit of the scholar is books. In this respect, books are very
dangerous if wrongly used. He thinks that we should consider the value of past books only,
but we should not rely on them. He appeals to each generation to write its own books.
The next great influence into the spirit of the scholar is the mind of the past, in whatever form,
whether of literature, of art, of institutions, that mind is inscribed. Books are the best type of
the influence of the past, and perhaps we shall get at the truth, learn the amount of this
influence more conveniently, by considering their value alone.
By so doing, Emerson calls for the creative scholar. He wants the Man-Thinking scholar who does not live in libraries relying on what old people say. Emerson thinks that the duty of the book is to inspire the active soul which values the absolute truth and creates.
Each age, it is found, must write its own books; or rather, each generation for the next succeeding. The book of an older period will not fit this. The sluggish and perverted mind of the multitude, slow to the incursions of reason, having once so opened, having once received this book, stands upon it, and makes an outcry if it is disparaged. Colleges are built on it. Books are written on it by thinkers, not by man thinking; by men of talent, that is, who start wrong, who set out from accepted dogmas, not from their own sight of principles. Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it their duty to accept the views which Cicero, which Locke, and bacon were only young men in libraries when they wrote these books. Hence, instead of Man Thinking we have the bookworm.
Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst. What is the right use? What is the one end which all means go to effect? They are for nothing but to inspire. I had better never see a book than to be warped by its attraction clean out of my own orbit, and made a satellite instead of a system. The one thing in the world, of value, is the active soul. This every man is entitled to; this every man contains within him, although in almost all men obstructed and as yet unborn. The soul active sees absolute truth and utters truth, or creates. In this action it is genius.
Undoubtedly there is a right way of reading, so it be sternly subordinated. Man thinking must not be subdued by his instruments. Books are for the scholar‟s idle times. When he can read god directly, the hour is too precious to be wasted in other men‟s transcripts of their readings. [He wants man to be
creative and independent of what British say]
rd3. The 3 influence on man is action which is of a great importance since man acquires knowledge through experience and action. To Emerson, the scholar should depend on his own strength and his own action because life is a dictionary the more you go through the more you learn.
Emerson now moves to speak about the duty of the scholar: sta. The 1 duty of the scholar is: “to guide men showing them facts amidst appearances.” ndb. The 2 duty of the scholar is that he should feel confident in himself. He should rely on
himself “he and he only knows the world.”
Inaction is cowardice, but there can be no scholar without the heroic mind. The preamble of thought, the transition through which it passes from the unconscious to the conscious, is action.
The world, this shadow of the soul, or other me, lies wide around. Its attractions are the keys which unlock my thoughts and make me acquainted with myself. I run eagerly into this resounding tumult. I grasp the hands of those next to me, and take my place in the ring to suffer and to work.
Of course, he who has put forth his total strength in fit actions has the richest return of wisdom.
I hear therefore with joy whatever is beginning to be said of the dignity and necessary of labor to every citizen. There is virtue yet in the hoe and the spade, for learned as well as for unlearned hands. And labor is everywhere welcome; always we are invited to work; only be this limitation observed, that a man shall not for the sake of wider activity sacrifice any opinion to the popular judgment and models of action. [Even common man must be active; he s focusing on dignity of action (labor)]
I have now spoken of the education of the scholar by nature, by books, and by action. It remains to say somewhat of his duties.
They are such as become man thinking. They may all be comprised in self-trust. The office of the scholar is to cheer, to raise, and to guide men by showing them facts amidst appearances.
These being his functions, it becomes him to feel all confidence in himself, and to defer never to the popular cry. He and he only knows the world. The world of any moment is the merest appearance.
In self-trust all the virtue are comprehended. Free should the scholar be, free and brave. Free even to the definition of freedom, “without any hindrance that does not arise out of his own constitution”.
Conclusion: In the end Emerson sets forth his belief in the “Man-Thinking”. In this context, he
says “the world is nothing, man is all. In your self is the law of all Nature. In yourself slumbers the whole of reason? It is for you to know all; it is for you to dare all.”
“I learned”, said the melancholy Pestalozzi, “that no man in god‟s wide earth is either willing or able to
help any other man”. Help must come from the bosom alone. The scholar is that man who must take up into himself all the ability of the hopes of the future. He must be a university of knowledge. If there be one lesson more than another which should pierce his ear, it is, the world is nothing, the man is all; in yourself is the law of all nature, and you know not yet how a globule of sap ascends; in yourself slumbers the whole of reason; it is for you to know all; it is for you to dare all.
? Self Reliance:
Emerson is against conformity of what society dictates; he wants man to be creative and to do what he believes he must do. He is referring to three names that were great thinkers in America and that we must follow. He emphasizes that even those great figures in history spoke of their thoughts.
Is this essay, Emerson asserts that a good society is a society of good individuals, and the only fundamental reform is the reform of one‟s self. The aims and effects of those known as reformers and
humanitarians are superficial and social progress is an illusion. Conformity, the virtue most widely valued, is the means by which free men are intimidated into slavery to society.
In affirming self-reliance versus conformity, independence versus subjection, the individual versus society, Emerson had behind him an immense amount of American experience, including the settlement of new England by nonconformists, the stand of roger Williams in favor of the individual conscience, the inner light of the Quakers, the passion of Jefferson for all freedoms, the Jacksonian assertion of the common man. Emerson‟s was a democratic individualism, but at the same time it was a spiritual individualism deeply related to European traditions reaching far back to early Christianity and the philosophy of Plato.
In “the American scholar” and the “divinity school address” Emerson‟s art was that of the orator
adapting his speech to a dignified occasion. Now he is an informal essayist. He is still, in a sense, addressing an audience (“you”), and he is still in a ministerial, seeking to stir unused depths in the
listener‟s experience. Full of his subject and purpose, he sustains them through a lengthy discourse, repeating his point “trust thyself” in many statements and over-statements, testing it by many
applications to situations in life, alerting the reader by change in tone and attitude. The essay is studded with pithy, quotable epigrams and with telling metaphors. And the diction, as Lowell said, is at once rich and homely, “like home-spun cloth-of-gold”.
To believe your own though, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense.
Familiar as the voice of the mind is to each, the highest merit we ascribe to Moses, Plato, and Milton is that they set at naught books and tradition, and spoke not what men, but what they thought. A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the luster of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side.
There is a time in every man‟s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that
imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better for worse as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till, but god will not have his work made manifest by cowards.
Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, and the connection of events. Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all their being.
Session 12 - Tuesday March 27, 2007
Emerson is attacking society [it was a bitter attack on the communal social life and one of the strongest attack on conformity and consistency of society]. This was revealed in the joint-stock company in which the members agree how to insure the bread of the other shareholders. He wants to cancel the liberty and culture of the eater. He is calling for individualism and self-reliance which is the enemy of conformity.
These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is comformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and costums. [We should not
commit ourselves to what society asks us to do; he wants individuals to be free and not conformists.]
No law can be sacred to me but that of my mature. Good and bad are but names very readly transferable to that or this the only right is what after my constitution; the only wrong what is against it.
Emerson states if we stick to the usages that had come from the Ancients, it will scatter our force.
The objection to conforming to usages that have become dead to you it that scatters your force. A foolish consistency is the hobgobin of little minds [evil of the mind], adored by little statemen and philosophers
and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said to-day. “ah, so you shall be sure to
be misunderstood”. It is so bad then to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and socrates,
and jesus, and luther, and comernicus, and galio, and newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood. [He stresses the individuality at every moment of our life]
The most important thing is not to quote the Ancients. Emerson wants Americans to be always creative and say what they want to say today regardless of what they say yesterday even if it is contradictory to what they utter today or will utter tomorrow.
Man is timid and apologetic; he is no longer upright: he dares not say “I think”, “I am”, but quotes some saint or sage. He is ashamed before the blade of grass or the blowing rose. These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with god to-day. There is no time for them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence.
All for one and one for all: he is stressing on the divine aspect of man. This statement has been taken by Neime literally from Emerson.
All men have my blood and I all men‟s. not for that will I adopt their petulance or folly, even to the extent of being ashamed of it. But your isolation must not be mechanical, but siritual, that is, must be elevation. At times the whole world seems to be in conspiracy to impotune you with emphatic trifles. Friend, climate, child, sickness, fear, want, charity, all knock at once at thy closet door and say, “come out unto us”. Our housekeeping is medicant, out arts, our occupations, our marriages, our religion we have not chosen, but society has chosen for us.[This is another attack on commiting ourselves to society]
He has not one chance, but a hundred chances. Let a stoic open the resources of man and tell men they are not leaning willows, but can and must detach themeselves; that with the exercise of self-trust, new powers shall appear; that man is the word made flesh, born to shed healing to the nations; that he should be sshamed of our compassion, and that the moment he acts from himself, tossing the laws, the books, idolatries and customs out of the window, we pity him no more but thank and revere him; and that teacher shall restore the life of man to splendor and make him name dear to all history.
We imitate; and what is imitate but the travelling of the mind? Our houses are built with foregin taste; our sheves are garnished with foregin ornaments; our opinions, our tastes, our faculties, lean, and follow the past and the distance. Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life‟s cultivation; but of the adopeted talent of another you have only and extemporaneous half possession.
Self reliance focuses on the dignity of the individual asserting that every individual has the right to think for himself and to do what ever he considers right.
Emerson says “man should believe what is true for you in your heart is true for all” [p.316].
Emerson wants every man to think for himself, he should decide for himself what he will do. Emerson recognized the fact that we are going to face troubles if we think for ourselves. In this respect, he says we must take lesson from children because children when they want something they insist that it should be given to them. [p. 317]
Emerson desires many men to be like children who have freedom that leads them to build a better world. Emerson goes on to say that the chief force working against mankind is society or the rest of our traditions and customs. Society exists because of traditions and laws and society demands conformity to these traditions and laws. [p. 317]
Emerson wants to say that man should act according to the rules dictated by his own conscience. He believes that in many cases the conscience of the individual parallels the law of society.
Emerson says that any person who lives in conformity with the rules of society cannot live decently because he may become the slave of the rules of society. Emerson is realistic about the price that one might pay for his non-conformity. Emerson thinks that we sometimes abide by traditions and regulations of society because we are not inconsistent. At the time, Emerson wrote this material; he found that society placed a great value on consistency. [p.318]
Some people say if we are inconsistent people will not understand us. Emerson answers: “To be
great is to be misunderstood” [p. 319]
American has always had this screaming against conformity to society. The Americans have launched a great attack on the Puritan ethics which were at times dominant in America.
In a poetic image, Emerson regarded himself primarily as a poet; he uses the image of the “rose”
because it is important only for itself and for no other reason. [p. 321]
Man to Emerson should not be the slave to any other man. He shouldn’t be responsible for the actions of his family. Man should live only for himself, but not selfishly. He says that each individual knows what is right and wrong and stresses that man must not let his conscience be controlled by society.
As far as religion is concerned, Self-Reliance destroys man’s dependence on creed, Emerson
meaning Christianity and particularly Puritanism. Emerson says that man should not accept them because someone tells him to accept them.
Regarding education and art, Emerson says that these should be produced by men who can think for themselves and produce original works of art.
Regarding social structure, he says that Self-Reliance reduces our dependence on the machinery
of society. Regarding the literary impact, Emerson has been able to move the American public; it has become an important part of American life and culture, American insistence on independence, on the formation of an independent individual. For this reason, Emerson remains an important force in American literature. His main contribution is to the independence of American literature from the dominance of Europeans. He fought the idea as to why Americans should write literature, since English people can do this for the Americans. He encouraged the Americans to have their intellectual life to produce a literature of their own.
Session 13 - Tuesday April 03, 2007
The Divinity School Address: ?
This address was given at the request of students. In it Emerson has shown how the prevailing thChristianity [19 century] failed to represent the real essence of religion. Emerson says that when man’s heart and mind are open to the sentiment of virtue, he feels he has connection with a
power above him. Emerson says he loves the Right the Truth. He also says when man does a deed, he purifies himself. He also says that these virtuous sentiments reached the sublime when they dwelled in the minds of man in the East.
Page 1034: A more secret, sweet, and overpowering beauty appears to man when his heart and mind open to the sentiment of virtue. Then instantly he is instructed in what is above him. He learns that his being is without bound; that, to the good, to the perfect, he is born, low as he now lies in evil and weakness. That which he venerates is still his own, though he has not realized it yet. He ought. He knows the sense of that grand word, though his analysis fails entirely to render account of it. When in innocency, or when by intellectual perception, he attains to say, “I love
the Right; Truth is beautiful within and without, forevermore. Virtue, I am thine: save me: use me: thee will I serve.
Page 1035: He, who does a deed, is instantly ennobled himself. He, who does a mean deed, is by the action itself contracted. He, who puts off impurity, thereby puts on purity. If a man is at heart just, then in so far is he God; the safety of God, the immortality of God, the majesty of God do enter into that man with justice.
But speak the truth, and all nature and all nature and all spirits help you with unexpected furtherance. Speak the truth, and all things alive or brute are vouchers, and the very roots of the grass underground there, do seem to stir and move to bear you witness.
Page 1036: This thought dwelled always deepest in the minds of men in the devout and contemplative east; not alone in Palestine, where it reached its purest expression, but in Egypt, in Persia, in India, in china. Europe has always owed to oriental genius, its divine impulses. [Very Important]
Emerson says that the oracle of the truth is always received through intuition. Referring to the Christian church he attacked it severely, but he praised Jesus Christ and said he belonged to the true race of prophets and he clone throughout history has been able to estimate the greatness of man, to be able to see that god incarnates himself in man.
Page 1037: Jesus Christ belonged to the true race of prophets. He saw with open eye the mystery of the soul. Drawn by its severe harmony, ravished with its beauty, he lived in it, and had his being there. Alone in all history, he estimated the greatness of man. One man was true to what is in you and me. He saw that god incarnates himself in man, and evermore goes forth anew to take possession of his world. He said, in this jubilee of sublime emotion, „I am divine. Through me, god acts; through me, speaks. Would you see god, see me; or, see thee, when thou also thinkest as I now think.‟
Emerson argues that Christ’s doctrine is made by the church to suffer a great distortion because
the churches are not built on the principles of Christ but on his tropes.
Page 1037: This was Jehovah come down out of heaven. I will kill you, if you say he was a man.‟ The idioms of his language, and the figures of his rhetoric, have usurped the place of his truth; and churches are not built on his principles, but on his tropes. Christianity became a Mythus, as the poetic teaching of Greece and of Egypt, before. He spoke of miracles; for he felt that man‟s life was a miracle, and all that man doth, and he knew that this daily miracle shines, as the man is diviner.
Emerson accused the church of turning Christianity to a myth similar to the teachings of Old Greece and Egypt. Speaking of miracles Emerson says that to Christ man’s doings are the
miracles, but the miracle as spoken of by the church is a Monster.
Emerson says Christ repeated the teachings of earlier prophets, but he never postponed their teachings to his days but he had initiated his own teachings and thus he was a true man.
Emerson says that if we look at Jesus from this point of view we can easily detect the errors of Christianity which has corrupted the efforts of the true religion. It is sole practice was to exaggerate “the personal, the positive, the ritual.” The church has portrayed Christ as a demi-god,
or as the Orientals or the Greeks used to describe Apollo or other Greek Gods.
Emerson returns to the worship of the self believing that the stoical doctrine obeys thyself, suits man best. Emerson argues saying “what shows god in me, fortifies me and what shows god out of me makes me a wart and a wen.”
Page 1038: That is always best which gives me to myself. The sublime is excited in me by the great stoical doctrine, obey thyself. That, which shows god in me, fortifies me. That, which shows god out of me, makes me a wart and a wen. [Something of no value]
Emerson believes that through these virtuous means or media Jesus teaches humanity, not by miracles since miracles are a profanation [(?(！？] of the soul. According to Emerson, God had
bestowed upon man’s soul the sweet, natural goodness that helps man to be and to grow.
Page 1038: The divine bards are the friends of my virtue, of my intellect, of my strength. They admonish me that the gleams which flash across my mind, are not mine, but god‟s; that they had the like, and were not disobedient to the heavenly vision. So I love them. Noble provocations go out from them, inviting me also to emancipate myself; to resist evil; to subdue the world; and to be. And thus by his holy thoughts, Jesus serves us, and thus only. To aim to convert a man by miracles is a profanation of the soul. A true conversion, a true Christ, is now, as always, to be made, by the reception of beautiful sentiments. It is true that a great and rich soul, like his, falling among the simple, does so preponderate, that, as his did, it names the world. The world seems to them to exist for him, and they have not yet drunk so deeply of his sense, as to see that only by coming again to themselves, or to god in themselves, can they grow forevermore. It is a low benefit to give me something; it is a high benefit to enable me to do somewhat of myself. The time is coming when all men will see, that the gift of god to the soul is not a vaunting, overpowering, excluding sanctity, but a sweet, natural goodness, a goodness like thine and mine, and the so invites thine and mine to be and to grow.
Emerson believes that God is always present within the virtuous souls. Again attacking the church Emerson says that the church is formal in its preaching and whenever formality envelops the pulpit, the worshipper is cheated. He criticizes the ritual of the lords-supper and considers it as a formality that leads Christianity to erring [？?，；?; ?)，：?; ?； ~；，，(，; - ??，?;]. Emerson calls
upon man “to love God without mediator or veil.”
Session 14 - Tuesday April 17, 2007
thWalt Whitman: [19 Century] ?
Introduction: Walt Whitman started his life as an office boy, then as a school teacher, and then he worked in journalism. He expected Leaves of Grass to be a bombshell, but unfortunately it was scarcely noticed.
Only Emerson admired Whiteman and wrote: “I greet you at the beginning of great career.” Whitman was chiefly romantic like his romantic predecessor as Rousseau, Wordsworth, Shelly and Emerson. It is Emerson who imbued Whitman with a romantic desire for a native experience, a national genius. Whitman tried to make himself a spokesman of all America. This is the reason why Whitman had to fuse realism along with romanticism. This is why Whitman stressed on the common place and the trivial. He had therefore frank emphasis on sex and on bold sexual terms and on his acceptance of science.
Moreover, Whitman rejected all the marks of English verse such as rhyme, regular mater, stanza pattern, elaborate similes frequent allusions to the bible, the classics, the middle ages etc. instead Whitman wrote free verse emanating from the organic principles. Whitman believed in a us far removed from executives, legislatures, churches but on a us based on the common people attached to freedom. Whitman believed in simplicity in poetry and in all modes of life. He says “who troubles himself about his ornaments he is lost.” He had extreme attachment to nature, to the point of worship. He called upon people to love the earth, the sun, and the animals and to despise riches. He says “the act of art, the glory of expression is simplicity.” Whitman was convinced that all men are equal and believed in the importance of the
? Song of Myself: Whitman in this poem has many Emersonian overtones. He attacked established beliefs and institutions. He wants man to avoid sermons and traditions, conventions, teachings of religion. He was very definite that the poet should write about everything, about passion, about the naked body with the same enthusiasm. He is the poet of the body as well of the soul, the poet of evil & good. rd1) Whitman symbolizes the idea of all humanity. In the 3 line he says “for every atom belonging to me
as good belongs to you.” The grass to Whitman is always the symbol of life. He says that poetry is an observation of life. In this section, Whitman uses the “I” recurrently, thereby concentrating on the thphysical side. “Myself” is both body and soul; it might mean yourself and everybody. In the 6 line,
Whitman says “my tongue, every atom of my blood, formed from this soil, this air.” By so saying, Whitman expresses his belief in the continuity of life. To him, past, present and future are one chain. It is a kind of transmigration Whitman also says “creed and schools in abeyance” which means that we have to
forget our religion, our institutions and our traditions.
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
We see in these lines the human And what I assume you shall assume,
spiritual side in Whitman For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass
My tongue, every atom of my blood, form‟d this soil, this air, [strictly related to nature]
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same
I, now thirty-seven old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to case not till death
Creeds and schools in abeyance, [doctrine and religion in forgetfulness]
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten. Important I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy
5) There is a stress on the physical pleasure as well as on the spiritual. When he says “I believe in you my soul,” he is here laying stress on the worship of the spirit. When he says “how you settled your head athwart my hips.” Here Whitman describes the physical pleasure. In the same section, Whitman says that
it is the spiritual and the physical which lead people to realize the existence of God. She says “all men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters and lovers.” He believes that the world is like a ship balanced by love, saying “keelson of creation is love.”
I believe in you my soul; the other I am must not abuse itself to you, He is completely physical
And you must not be abased to the other.
Loafe 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 valved voice.
I mind how once we lay such a transparent summer morning. How you settled your head athwart my hips and gently turn‟d over upon me;
And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue to my bare - stript heart,
And reach‟d till you felt my beard, and reach‟d till you held my feet. [Purely sexual]
Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass all the argument of the earth,
And I know that the hand of god is the promise of my own, [lay stress on physicality]
And I know that the sprit of god is the brother of my own, [humanity – human side]
And that the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters and lovers
And that a kelson of the creation is love, [the main pillar of life is love]
6) Here, Whitman discusses the possibility of what the grass is. He says the grass is:
a. The hope of his spirit
b. It is the handkerchief of God
c. A sign of unity among all man
d. It is a symbol of life.
The image here is that when the body is put in a grave, it eventually becomes grass. To Whitman, man
resurrects, is born again. Whitman expresses a statement of faith in eternal life.
In the question he asks “what do you think?” Whitman denies the existence of death. He says death is
merely a change of state and position of man but it never stops life. The grass is of a A child said what is the grass? Fetching it to me with full hands;
great importance in How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he.
the life of Whitman I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the lord,
A scented gift and remembrance designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner‟s name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say whose?
Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation.
What do you think has become of the young and old men? The grass And what do you think has become of the women and children? symbolizes the They are alive and well somewhere, continuity of life. The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is difference from what any one supposed, and luckier.
20) Whitman here sees himself in all people and says of them whatever he says of himself. Since
Whitman is the brother to all human beings, he therefore feels that if one degrades another person he
In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barley-corn less, And the good or bad I say of myself I say of them.
I know I am solid sound,
To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow. All are written to me, and I must get what the written means.
I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content.
Session 15 - Tuesday April 24, 2007
23) Whitman welcomes science and accepts reality [this is the realistic side of Whitman]. Romantics denied reality and distrusted modern science. Although he accepts science, he says it is not his field and he prefers to remain a poet. Whitman is interested not in what science can tell, but in the spirit of man and life itself.
Hurrah for positive science! Long live exact demonstration!
Fetch stonecrop mixt with cedar and branches of lilac,
This is the lexicographer, this the chemist, this made a grammar of the old cartouches, These mariners put the ship through dangerous unknown seas,
This is the geologist, this works with the scalpel and this is a mathematician.
Gentleman, to you the first honors always!
Your facts are useful, and yet they are not my dwelling,
I but enter by them to an area of my dwelling.
24) Whitman concentrates himself. He has the image of all man. He is the one and the all. He is part of everybody and everybody is part of him. It is a physical image of himself, realistic and sensual. He wants people to do away [quit] with isolation. He believes that the doors are symbols for the separation of man from others. By so saying Whitman focuses on democracy. He says all voices speak through him the dumb, the prisoners, the slaves etc. Through Whitman the forbidden voices are heard, even the voices of sex and lust. Whitman argues that faith in God is shown by man’s work only. He insists that no man should ever kneel to another man. Once again he relies on nature and stresses brotherhood. He believes that God is part of everybody.
Walt Whitman, a kosmos, of Manhattan the son,
I speak the pass-word primeval; I gave the sign of democracy,
Through me forbidden voices,
Voices of sexes lusts, voices veil‟d and I remove the veil,
Voices indecent by me clarified and transfigur‟d.
Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touch‟d from,
The scent of these arm-pits aroma finer than prayer,
This head more than churches, bibles, and all the creeds
25) “I see something of god each hour of the twenty-four hours, and each moment then”: Here
Whitman insists on loving those living now and in the past and in the future. He is considered that God exists.
I hear and behold god in every object, yet understand god not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.
Why should I wish to see god better than this day?
I see something of god each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see god, and in my own face in the glass,
I find letters from god dropt in the street, and every one is sign‟d by God‟s name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe‟er I go,
Others will punctually come for ever and ever.
49) In this section Whitman says there is no reason to be afraid of death. He maintains that wherever he sees life he no longer fears death. Again Whitman is impressed by the body and soul and this belief in individualism, brotherhood and democracy. He loves the common man and grass to him symbolizes the common, the ordinary people and democracy.
And as to you death, and you bitter hug of morality, it is idle to try to alarm me.
51) Like Emerson, Whitman emphasizes that we should avoid traditions, books etc. he believes there is a certain god in every individual. He also believes that past, present and future all fuse into one. [Concept of transmigration]. He maintains there is no death since death and life are