Connect a Moment in Section 52 to Another Location in Whitman’s Work

The technology staff in the Crowsnest is back on the job to isolate perhaps the most important part of this video that will help you understand how and why Whitman develops the first person voice in Leaves of Grass. You will find out why Ed Folsom will claim that “Everything that is going to be great in Whitman are in these lines of his notebook.” Then you hear several modern poets read famous passages from Song of Myself.

So, start at minute 27:50 where Whitman comes to terms with slavery. Then finish at minute 39:10 where Ed Folsom reflects on the totality of Leaves of Grass.

To focus our attention on Section 52 of Song of Myself, let’s have everyone make a comment that connects a word, line, or literary device from Section 52 to any other line in Whitman’s work. By all means feel comfortable connecting another section from Song of Myself to your favorite moment in Section 52. Compose 5-7 sentences in Standard English and read it out loud for clarity’s sake. If you want, draft and revise your comment in a Word document; then paste it into the comment box on the blog.

For Section 52, we’ll use this version in class for explicating on the Interactive Whiteboard.

About Bill Sullivan

I am an English teacher working with great students at Suffield Academy. I also teach seniors in various project-based learning environments. Some of the #PBL topics included global issues, such as Pandemics, Climate Change, and Water; more recently I have asked students to research and identify topics important to our school community and their generation. We curate these topics with a #StudentCenteredPBL. For the past eleven years, I also created a driving question for a class to research a local history mystery and present their findings in a community program partnering with our local historical society. These topics encompass researching the lives of enslaved individuals who were contributors to the foundation of our community.
This entry was posted in 21st Century Learning, Design Thinking, Design Thinking on HMK, Homework, Honors English III, Twitter, Whitman. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Connect a Moment in Section 52 to Another Location in Whitman’s Work

  1. Michael Giugliano says:

    In section 52 of “Song of Myself,” Walt Whitman uses the word “vapor” (1335) to allude to his obsession with water. In so many of Whitman’s other works he continually includes connections to water or images of water to highlight the work’s connection to nature. By making these connections to water, Whitman shows how humanity depends on the presence of water because it is so prevalent in our everyday lives. Evidence of Whitman’s heavy use of this water motif is in section 11 of “Song of Myself.” Throughout section 11, Whitman describes the numerous characters by integrating some form of water into their description. For instance, in section 11, Whitman writes “You splash in the water there” (207), describing the woman, and “Little streams pass’d over their bodies” (211), describing the “Twenty-eight young men” (199). These are just a few examples of Whitman’s tendency to incorporate the idea of water into many of his works. This tendency of Whitman’s is significant to his works because it shows how he believes in the significance of water in his life and the lives of everyone else.

  2. Nicole Lee says:

    In section 52, Whitman continually uses words that refer to natural elements; for instance, he uses air (1336), dirt (1338), and grass (1338). He is informing his readers that he has become a part of endless cycle of nature after his death. By doing so, he emphasizes his relationship with the nature and universe. He also revealss this relationship in section 1. He asserts, “my tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air” (6): he is affirming that he was born from the soil like everyone else. Whitman also reveals his strong desire to continue his self-celebration after his death by adding, “I permit to speak at every hazard, nature without check with original energy” (13). He, therefore, builds strong correlation between him and the nature, or in a wider scope, universe. Whitman’s use of natural elements in the beginning and the end of his poem helps him to tie it together while conveying his relationship with nature and universe.

  3. Jackson says:

    My connection centers around Whitman’s statement, “I am the poet of the body, and I am the poet of the soul” and line 1320 of “Song of Myself” which states, “Listener up there! What have you to confide in me?” In these two excerpts, Whitman describes his universal appeal, and his ability to identify with both the mighty and the common man. In “Leaves of Grass” Whitman not only claims that he speaks for the “body” of the everyday worker, but that he is also able to resonate is his “soul.” In “Song of Myself” he uses kenning by addressing God as a “listener” that he may choose to talk to on an individual basis. By speaking to God, Whitman demonstrates his versatility as a poet, to not only speak with a higher power but to do so from the perspective of a common man. Therefore, Whitman states that he can use his words to identify with people from any walk of life.

  4. Mia D'Angelo says:

    In section 52 of Walt Whitman’s, “Song Of Myself,” it touches upon a reoccurring idea of death and rebirth in the grass. The word grass appears various times throughout the work but, in section 52 Whitman writes, “I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love, if you want me again look for me under your boot soles” (Whitman 1356). This line and idea connects to section 6 when Whitman was attempting to explain to the little child who asked what grass was. Whitman introduced plenty of ideas, one being, “They [the dead men and women]are alive and well somewhere, The smallest sprout shows there is really no death, And if ever there was it let forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it.” (Whitman 1317). By the end of the work, the conclusion inferences death, Whitman adds that he will leave to go into the ground to grow from the sprouts that symbolizes life and rebirth. There is no death, and Whitman hints to that when he says, “if you want me again look for me under your boot soles” (Whitman 1356), this informs people that if you want him, look down into the ground into the earth to see him in the raw natural form of nature.

  5. vaughnrogers says:

    In section 52 of “Song of Myself,” Walt Whitman conforms to the romantic style of writing, emphasizing emotion and the connection of one’s soul with nature. Grass appears as a symbol from the beginning of the poem, when Whitman writes, “I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass” (5). Grass appears many times throughout the poem as an extended metaphor, and as Whitman’s tone changes so does the meaning of the grass. In the beginning, the grass is related to a weapon, but in section six where a child asks “What is grass,” the narrator thinks “I guess grass is itself a child, the produced babe of vegetation” and that it is “the handkerchief of the Lord” (99, 102, 105). The word “grass” appears more than a dozen times throughout the rest of the poem, and in section 52 Whitman writes “I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love” (1139). Grass is introduced to the reader as something like a weapon, capturing the attention of the author. However, as the narrator becomes more in tune with nature, the grass becomes something that the speaker loves, and wants to become a part of.

  6. Carrie Lauria-Sheehan says:

    In section 52 of “Song of Myself”, Walt Whitman touches on how he has knowledge that puts him above everybody else. At the end of the section, Whitman writes, “I stop somewhere waiting for you” (1345), referencing how he is constantly ahead of others. He implies that he frequently needs to wait for others to catch up to his level of understanding. This also occurs in section 43 of “Song of Myself” when he claims, “I know every one of you, I know the sea of torment, doubt, despair and unbelief” (1114). Here, Whitman also implies that he knows more than the average man, claiming to understand everything that the people are going through. These two examples show the connections that Whitman makes between his works. They also demonstrate how Whitman ties his personal qualities into his work when he reveals his infamous arrogance by saying he is better and higher than everybody else.

  7. In Section 52 of “Song of Myself”, Walt Whitman writes, “I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love, If you want me again look for me under you boot-soles” (1356). The line before he talks about his “white locks” (1356) and the “runaway sun” (1356). Whitman’s words allude to a metaphor for death. His time as run out as the “runaway sun” and his “white locks” allude to this. In Section 51 of “Song of Myself”, the idea of running out of time is again mentioned, but instead it is referring to running out of time to speak what one thinks and also to accept oneself. The section concludes with, “Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too late?” (1356). He is trying to voice the idea that one cannot wait to say whats on their mind because by the time one gets the will to say it, it will be too late. Also in that section he writes, “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself” (1356). He also brings in the idea of accepting oneself for who one truly is. The idea of “running out of time” and “accepting oneself” is brought into view. Whitman comments on the fact that he accepts himself for who he truly is and everyone else should too, because when time runs out there is no going back.

  8. oliviaa1718 says:

    In Section 52 of “Song of Myself” Whitman writes, “You will hardly know who I am or what I mean” (1356). This connects to many other parts of this work; throughout it’s entirety he explains how rare it is that a person fully understand him. The work is focused on describing the many layers of Whitman and shows how he considers himself to be a complex man. This is shown again in Section 16, “I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise,” (1323) describing his many dimensions. These contradictory statements explain the complexity of Whitman’s personality, proving that anyone that knows him will be challenged with fully grasping who he is. He describes his whole self in this work, while acknowledging his mysterious and complicated way. This is seen again in Section 20, “I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or to be understood” (1326). Whitman states that he tells that he will remain content even if people cannot figure him out. He accepts who he is and is willing to share his thoughts, knowing that they are not “normal.”

  9. Shane says:

    Section 52 of “Song of Myself” is Whitman’s secret weapon. It is his most powerful phrase-turning, his poetic a-bomb, It is General Whitman’s last stand in the American (poetic) Rebellion. This is the embodiment of Whitman’s Ideal, the whole work boiled down into 7 stanzas. It offers a very important and powerful explanation of Whitman’s use of the first person throughout the work. the first person is not just a rebellion against Old World form but a significant choice on Whitman’s part that was essential in his grand plan to heal a nation that was tearing itself apart as they mentioned in the video. The point is that any man, women, child, slave, master, poet, conductor, laborer, or scholar could read this book and hear these truths about themselves. “I too am not a bit untamed.” Not Walt Whitman is untamed, but “I”, me, the reader, is as untamed and as wild as a hawk. And this is how Whitman creates the American Culture, by highlighting and embracing the similarities, complexities, oddities, differences, and the multitudes contained by every single American.

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