Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass Analysis

WaltWhitman, Leaves of Grass Analysis

Leavesof Grassis an assemblage of poems written by Whitman spanning his entireauthorship. The poetry is arranged into different sections dependingon the thematic issues addressed in each poem. All through his life,Whitman reviewed the book, constantly adding new items to thecontents. The final copy of the book was published a few monthsbefore his death in 1981. Whitman intentionally avoided organizinghis book in a chronological way. He chose to arrange the book in away that conveyed the journey of the poetry he was delivering throughthe book. This paper seeks to analyze keys areas of the book underdifferent themes as relayed by Whitman.


Whitman’sdefinition of the complete self is one that comprises of both thephysical and spiritual aspects of a human being. The self is whatdictates the individual identity, unique traits and presence of anyman. These traits make up the self and make any man different fromthe rest, although it can be used by other people to relate to them.

TheBody and the Soul

FromWhitman’s poetry, he comes out as a man who possesses the elementsof the body in the soul in one package. He believed that through thebody, it is possible for people to understand the soul. He views thebody and the soul as two connected entities can is inseparable.


Timeis one of the key attributes of a qualified poet according toWhitman. He holds the belief that a poet is a connector to time. Apoet, according to Whitman, should have the ability to recognize thepast, the present, and the future as connected entities, notindividual entities.


Anothertheme that sticks out in Whitman’s book is his views on death. Heviews death to be a fact of life that cannot be avoided. Life indeath is a truth that he sees beyond the death in life that everyoneelse sees. To him, his poetry will live past his death since he is apoet of the body and the spirit.


Originallya German philosophy, Transcendentalism was an influential movement inEngland in the early 1800s. It implied that people have to reachbeyond the confines of their senses to reach the true reality oflife, which is the spirit. One of the poems in the book titled&quotPassage to India&quot demonstrates this perception.


Whitmanviews personality beyond what makes an individual. According to him,personalize included the relationship between a person and theircommunity. This comes out clearly in the poem titled Song of Myself,where he brings out a powerful “I” who tries to use culturalimages to resolve social and private problems.

Apartfrom the themes, Whitman’s poems also addressed different issuesthat faced society as time progressed. Right from the beginning, eachpiece is geared to address certain issue or event. &quotInscriptions,&quotisa preview of all the work in the book. &quotStartingfrom Paumanok&quotisa guide map of the poetry work in the subsequent sections of thebook. &quotSongof Myself&quotis a proclamation of the individual, Whitman in this case. &quotCalamus&quottalks about love, not just love but intimate love between people. &quotCrossingBrooklyn Ferry,&quotdepicts the relationship between individuals and their community. Whitman’s poetry also covered historical events such as the CivilWar in the US in his poems like &quotDrum-Taps&quotand &quotMemoriesof President Lincoln.&quot


Whitman’swork elicited different reactions from different people. Each pieceof poetry he wrote has a fair share of supporters and critics. Hiscritics oppose his views on various themes such as life andpersonalism. All in all, his poetry stands out as unique andprofound. He paints a clear depiction of the world he lived in, evenaddressing historical issues, like the US Civil War and payingtribute to Abraham Lincoln after the latter’s death. Leavesof Grassis a worthy read for poetry lovers and any other reader whoappreciates well-articulated literally works.


Whitman,Walt. Leavesof Grass.S.l.: Transaction, 2013. Print.