Sing Body Electric Essay

Sing Body Electric Essay-5
Even Whitman supporter Ralph Waldo Emerson supposedly advised him not to include the poem (or the sexual and homoerotic “Calamus” poems) in the 1860 edition, but Whitman held to his artistic vision. A few years later, Whitman was fired from a government post after a superior read the sexual poems.

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Women are of course generative in the same literal sense in this poem.

The eighth stanza opens with the image of “[a] woman’s body at auction”: obviously a slave auction.

The lists alternate with anecdotal and propositional sections, which allow Whitman to work out some of the issues surrounding the body.

This makes “Body Electric” one of his more highly structured poems.

Just as various organs and features come together in the greater structure of the human body, so too do the various bits and pieces of Whitman’s poetry come together in a greater whole.

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Whitman prizes the body most for its generative qualities.the gates of the soul.” The man is more a figure of “action and power,” although he too is associated with propagation.The small anecdote of the “common farmer” is an interesting case.But in this movie of music and drama, there is one scene that made me fly: The graduation performance at the end of the movie.The song they sing, “I sing the body electric” always sends my heart soaring, my soul expanding, my eyes tear.The farmer is seen through the eyes of his children, who “love him.” While the love of the children is not presented erotically, it shades into the erotic gaze of the poet, who longs to “sit by him...that [I] and he might touch each other.” The ability of this simple man to build a sort of family dynasty seems to be what attracts the poet.This is most evident in the fifth and sixth sections of the poem, where he examines first the female and then the male body, praising both for their “sacred” status.The woman is much more strongly associated with reproduction: she is “the gates of the body, and...Whitman was not reticent about proclaiming his beliefs (or his own talents).“I celebrate myself, and sing myself,” he wrote in “Song of Myself,” yet that self was always seen as a part of all humanity and particularly of the people of the United States.


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