Do you have free will yes, its the only choice essay

Walt Whitman is widely known as the first American ‘ Democratic’ Poet, and for his liberal thinking. Whitman began creating poetry as a means of defining America in 1855. Although America has always been a conflicted and multi-cultural nation, Whitman tried to recreate it as a unified whole through his poetry. In Song of Myself, Whitman describes America as, “ One of the Nation of many nations, the smallest the same and the largest the same” (Whitman). Whitman’s “ Song of Myself,” like the rest of his poems stems from the desire to heal, mediate, and reunite different factions in American, and create a unified nationalism in America (Pease 115). The 1885 edition of this poem is a perfect example of Whitman’s skill at successfully presenting an explicitly visible image of American nationality. Whitman was born during a time of unmatched American nationalism, and this poem is clearly a result of the influence that nationalism had on Whitman.
No one really knows where Whitman’s “ Song of Myself” actually originated from. However, historical and/or cultural events that influenced Whitman into writing this poem can be deciphered from one of his notebooks named “ Talbot Wilson.” Whitman began adding ideas in the notebook that would lead him to write this poem in the 1850s. Whitman’s ideas behind the poem, according to the notebook, date back to when the Fugitive Slave Law was passed in the 1850s. Whitman began taking notice slavery issue ever since ever since Anthony Burns, a slave who had run away from Virginia, was forced to return. Whitman had become a Democratic when the Democratic Party was separated by the Wilmot Proviso in 1846. The French terms that Whitman occasionally uses in “ Song of Myself” are a result of influence of the time he spent in Creole city, Louisiana, as an editor of the New Orleans Daily Crescent. Similarly, the poem contains detailed descriptions of slaves that reflect the influence of witnessing slave auctions in Louisiana.
After returning to Brooklyn, Whitman continued writing in his notebook rather endlessly, allowing his ideas to evolve, until he finally found the “ I” that he could use in free very poetry to speak of American nationalism in a brash voice that would not discriminate Americans. The ideas and notions that are now a part of “ Song of Myself” had initially been jotted down as prose lines, and Whitman was not even certain whether he wanted to combine these ideas into novel, play, poem or some other sort of a literary work (Whitman 775). Whitman’s Talbot Wilson notebook contains some of the earliest lines, which after various changes became a part of this poem. Page 67 of the notebook contains one particular line that Whitman included in the poem as it is: “ I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of the Soul” (Whitman). The poem also reflects the influence of nationalism on him when he writes, “ I am the poet of the woman the same as the man,” speaking for both American men and women as equals.
The above also reflects some of the contradictions that are embedded in “ Song of Myself.” As Whitman says that he would be the poet of both men and women, both Body and Soul, rather than either of them. The use of “ I” also leads to the emergence of democratic voice in the poem that Whitman was most likely after. Whitman does not refer to himself as the Whitman of the 1850s but as the Whitman of the future where Americans absolutely and completely recognize democracy. He uses a conversational and formal tone in the poem, with idioms, to teach Americans how to speak and think democratically. Again Whitman tries to hold Americans in a unified identity by stating that, “ I am large, I contain multitudes” (Whitman). This was a time when the Civil War was about outbreak in almost five years, so there was thorough division and tension in the American culture, yet in “ Song of Myself” Whitman speaks of unison in quite a confident voice.
With this new voice Whitman also acknowledges the body and sexuality more than the American culture of that time was used to. “ Urge and urge and urge” (Whitman), he narrates, while initiating his journey with a weird sexual act in the lines: “ I mind how once we lay / reach’d till you held my feet” (Whitman). Numerous interpretations have been presented of this physical act, even interpreting it as a reference to the soul charging up the body since Whitman does call himself the poet of Body and Soul. Apparently, Whitman cannot think of the soul without the body. When Whitman says, “ Urge and urge and urge,” he is also urging the democratic self to go beyond the boundaries of class, gender and race: “ Who need be afraid of the merge? /Undrape [. . .] you are not guilty to me” (Whitman). Every human being has a body and according to Whitman, the desires and drives of their body is what unifies them.
Whitman finally published “ Song of Myself” in July 4, 1855, just six years before the Civil War would tear up the nation. In fact, the nation was already being pulled apart, and no doubt, this to some extent influenced Whitman to write this free verse poem as a means of trying to unite Americans. The diversity of Americans and American environments within the United States that has been laid out in the poem in various sections of the poem is quite apparent. It seems that in “ Song of Myself,” Whitman is trying to acknowledge and make Americans realize that democracy, equality, and individuality are at the heart of their life, and that they should celebrate these. In fact, he himself is celebrating these elements of American life in the poem.

Works Cited

Pease, Donald E. ” Walt Whitman and the Vox Populi of the American Masses.” Visionary Compacts: American Renaissance Writings in Cultural Context (The Wisconsin project on American writers). Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987. Print.
Whitman, Walt. ” Song of Myself.” Leaves of Grass. Radford, VA: Wilder Publications, 2007. Print.
Whitman, Walt. Daybooks and Notebooks, Vol. 3: Diary in Canada, Notebooks, Index (Collected Writings of Walt Whitman). New York: New York University Press, 2007. Print.