By Harold Aspiz
Explores Whitman’s intimate and lifetime difficulty with mortality and his speculations concerning the afterlife.Walt Whitman is definitely a superb poet of the thrill of dwelling. yet, as Harold Aspiz demonstrates during this examine, matters with loss of life and loss of life outline Whitman’s occupation as philosopher, poet, and individual. via an in depth examining of Leaves of Grass, its constituent poems, rather “Song of Myself,” and Whitman’s prose and letters, Aspiz charts how the poet’s exuberant party of life--the cascade of sounds, attractions, and scents that erupt in his verse--is a end result of his important trouble: the ever-presence of demise and the possibility of an afterlife.So lengthy! devotes specific cognizance to Whitman’s language and wealthy artistry within the context of the poet’s social and highbrow milieus. We see Whitman (and his many personae) as a people prophet asserting a gospel of democracy and immortality; puzzling over demise in alternating moods of recognition and terror; fantasizing his personal demise and his postmortem selfhood; longing for buddies and fans whereas aware of mordant flesh; agonizing over the omnipresence of dying in wartime; patiently watching for demise; and launching imaginary trips towards immortality and godhood.By exploring Whitman’s religion in dying as a significant event, we may well comprehend higher how the poet--whether personified as consultant guy, sufferer, hero, lover, or visionary--lived so thoroughly at the fringe of life. Harold Aspiz is Professor of English Emeritus at California nation college, lengthy seashore, and writer of Walt Whitman and the physique appealing.
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Extra resources for So Long! Walt Whitman's Poetry of Death
From the poem’s outset the persona celebrates his existence as a democratic visionary whose hopeful gospel is intended to encourage the American masses to acknowledge the divinity latent in each of them. “Triumphal Drums for the Dead” / 35 I celebrate myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease . . 6 By loa¤ng (and thus relaxing his physical and mental tensions) and by inviting his soul to a spiritual communion, the persona attains the calm that mystics claimed to be the precondition for entering into a visionary state and uttering inspired words.
He reveled in the feeling that some sort of personal continuity beyond mortality was inevitable, even though he could not cite 34 / “Triumphal Drums for the Dead” any decisive evidence. But he believed that the sum of human knowledge (which he conceived as a harmonious blending of personal experience, “hard” science, certain pseudosciences, and broadly based religious ideas) tended to buttress his belief in immortality. Above all, he trusted his own perceptions and his intensely felt instincts as the best proofs concerning the nature of life and death.
And another 1856 poem, “This Compost,” depicts a traumatic crisis of faith that is seemingly resolved by an epiphanic vision of universal goodness and continuity and followed by a strong af¤rmation of immortality. The 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass is replete with such af¤rmations of immortality, even though two of its masterpieces—“Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking” and “As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life”—also re®ect deep crises of faith in which the persona questions his ability to perceive an orderly universe and to interpret life and death.
So Long! Walt Whitman's Poetry of Death by Harold Aspiz
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