“Song Of Myself” by Walt Whitman: Poetry Analysis

Categories: Walt Whitman

By looking at Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” Section 1, we can see that although this poem is written in the first person, he opens in a way that directly grabs the reader’s attention, by announcing a formal celebration of not only himself, but of all people universally. This shows that Whitman profoundly values diversity, as he addresses and includes his audience-- the universal people-- in everything he is doing in his celebration of life.

Whitman begins the first section in a tone of pretentious authority that forms the basis of the whole poem.

He is known for writing poems in free verse, which means there is no regular form or meter to his poems. This is where his fame began. He lived during a time when there were formal literary forms that Romantic Americans had ever gone against. He wrote his first poem named “Leaves of Grass,” which took many different publications through the years, and is now this poem, “Song of Myself.

Get quality help now
Bella Hamilton
Bella Hamilton
checked Verified writer
star star star star 5 (234)

“ Very organized ,I enjoyed and Loved every bit of our professional interaction ”

avatar avatar avatar
+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

” He was ridiculed by many for writing in this style, even his own family, but this did not stop him. He wanted to transform American poetry. He published “Leaves of Grass” with his own money, and soon people started to copy his style, which shows his individualistic character and commitment to his work from the beginning, which is the most important theme in “Song of Myself.”

The first two lines “I celebrate myself, and sing myself, / And what I assume you shall assume,” shows his boastfulness, informing us to do what he does, because he believes his life is the greatest celebration of all.

Get to Know The Price Estimate For Your Paper
Number of pages
Email Invalid email

By clicking “Check Writers’ Offers”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related email

"You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
Write my paper

You won’t be charged yet!

This creates a sense of power to the reader, allowing them to feel like they are the character being celebrated. This is something that is very uncommon of poets from his time to do. The words Whitman uses and the way he puts them together shows that he is caring and wants good for everyone, yet he shows no excitement through doing so. The way the narrator announces this self-celebration in such a formal matter makes it sound like he is giving a speech. He uses present tense throughout this poem, and he reminds us time and time again that we should live in the moment, not worry about the future until it is here. Most people in this case would say “I am celebrating,” instead of “I celebrate,” which draws the reader’s attention to one of the underlying themes, which is to live in the present. He uses repetition several different times, in several different stanzas, for example, “I celebrate myself, and sing myself, / And what I assume you shall assume,” to make that particular word or phrase stand out. He spaces these out to make every section stand out because he believes they are all equally important. These repetitive words may not have a particular meaning, for he believes that there are no privileged words. He does this to emphasize the sound of them and draws attention to the physical aspects of the word, giving them a musical beat. In a sense, he is creating rhythm, but in a different way. The word assume in this case could be seen from two different angles. In most poetry, it can be seen as something being “taken for granted,” supposing a case, or it can mean “to take or begin to have” in a powerful way. This gives Whitman an advantage, as he leaves the reader wondering.

He continues to the next line by fulfilling this curiosity of the audience. “For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.” This one line establishes an interconnection between the poet and the reader in a metaphorical way. He is no longer writing in a suggestive way, but in a factual way. He is talking about the universality of humans and their similar experiences in life. This interconnection is the main theme given throughout the poem and is a literary assumption that is made to display the narrator of the poem. After reading through the poem, I realized that Whitman does not identify himself by name until section 24. This is because the narrator is not Whitman as an individual speaking, but rather a voice representing all of humanity, presenting this interconnection through the conscience experiences we undergo in life. We are all interconnected in some way, yet we are all our own individual being.

This poem is celebrating the self-relation and oneness of all people, while also celebrating their oneness with nature. In the second stanza, the narrator goes beyond the spiritual aspects and dives into the physical aspects of this oneness. He leans and loafs “and invite my soul / … observing a spear of summer grass.”He is no longing just a voice speaking, but an entire body relaxing in the grass. Although this word choice is very plain, this creates the first physical image in the reader’s mind, relating it to something very vague, which brings excitement and creativity to the reader. The narrator is inviting his soul as he lays in the grass to bring him perfect peace. He uses repetition here in the phrase “I loafe and invite my soul, / I lean and loafe at my ease,” again, to create a sound repetition and musical beat. In doing this, it allows the reader to feel the oneness that Whitman is relating to, by giving an example that the audience might not interpret unless it is closely looked upon. It makes the reader wonder if other readers hear this same rhythm while reading the poem. This stanza is where the original title, “Leaves of Grass,” comes from. Every singular blade of grass represents an individual in the world. When he says he is “observing the spear of summer grass,” he is pondering the thoughts and actions of a human being, and his purpose here on Earth. This is the first stanza that engages the human senses. He is looking and thinking about this spear of grass, which is the object of attention.

In the transition from the second stanza to the third, he shifts from universal self to totally particular and unique self. He describes his that bodily functions, “my tongue, every atom of my blood,” are formed from and part of the Earth. He claims that everything he is has come from the soil; his parents and grandparents were born the same. The implication here is that we are all born in the same manner. When he says “I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin, / Hoping to cease not till death,” he is saying that his hopes are to continue the celebration of himself and his life until his death, and he fulfills this by continuing to write until he dies. This shows his positive outlook on life and optimism, that are persistent throughout the entire poem.

Presenting his optimistic thoughts, he closes Section 1 of “Song of Myself,” articulating the way creeds and schools mold the mind to think in a certain way and gives stereotypes of what is good versus bad in the world. He is reflecting on a time of his life, that was full of many things, that helped him grow and be who he is now, an individualistic spirit observing the interconnection of all beings. Whitman does not avoid any life experience because he was taught it was bad. He wants to temporarily put aside differences to feel as free as “Nature without check with original energy.”

Updated: Feb 02, 2024
Cite this page

“Song Of Myself” by Walt Whitman: Poetry Analysis. (2024, Feb 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/song-of-myself-by-walt-whitman-poetry-analysis-essay

Live chat  with support 24/7

👋 Hi! I’m your smart assistant Amy!

Don’t know where to start? Type your requirements and I’ll connect you to an academic expert within 3 minutes.

get help with your assignment