I have been looking at Walt Whitman’s poetry in a special focus because his work helps in very powerful ways to reinforce the truths that I sincerely believe will help you discover heart and life truths for yourself.
I would also like you to understand why literature can be so useful to this end. Of course, literature is classified as such because people find value in it for decades up to millennia. This is why I have a basic literary analysis framework. It goes something like this.
The primary purpose of literature is to give insight into the human condition. The way to discover that is to analyze it in terms of the author’s life and times, literary devices and elements, and how the literature relates to us and how we relate to the literature. I am not teaching a literature class here; I am only exploring the primary purpose and the effect of the work on us. So, if you’re not sleeping by now, I would like to explore Walt Whitman’s “Song” poems a bit more, true expressions of joy.
I believe that Walt’s work reveals the deep heart truths that he held. I also think that he knew what it was to be in the fellowship of the heart. Walt’s work is not usually analyzed this way, but it is so clear to me and so encouraging.
For instance, Walt reveals the essence of his relationship to the Universe, a spiritual flow that he feels can be most fully realized in the new democracy of America, based on what America should represent. He sees America as a place in which eternal truths can be lived. In Section 49 of “Song of Myself,” he says, “I hear you whispering there O stars of heaven, / O suns — O grass of graves — O perpetual transfers and promotions, / If you do not say any thing how can I say any thing?”
The depths in those lines overwhelm me. He sees, as anyone would who has heard their heart and become self-awakened and self-aware, that the Spirit of all permeates and is operative in anything that we can sense; therefore, when we walk in the fellowship of the heart, we can access those things that encourage us, continue to enlighten us, and yield joy and connections with other hearts.
Application? Do we speak to our hearts to hear the songs and whispers of the Universe in the stars, the grass, and in any part of creation that we can access? Messages are there for us.
I would add one caution here: we should not be waiting for messages from some god or fate to tell us what to do. Walt already had awakened to core Self and created his life purpose and determined a vision and mission to carry that out, which we see clearly demonstrated for us in Leaves of Grass, among his other works. Don’t wait for an omen to let you know what to do. Omens are usually just encouragement to continue or a confirmation or affirmation. The life purpose comes from Heart. Spiritually sensing all of creation around us just helps us carry out our purpose — whether that be poet, mechanic, teacher, family care-giver, or anything else — by giving us more insight into the unity of all.
Then, in Section 50, Walt continues with this: “There is that in me — I do not know what it is — but I know it is in me. // I do not know it — it is without name — it is a word unsaid, / It is not in any dictionary, utterance, symbol.” I would love to just read all this to you, but I won’t write it out here. I will skip down a few lines: “Do you see O my brothers and sisters? / It is not chaos or death — it is form, union, plan — it is eternal life — it is Happiness.” Walt wrestles with defining this whole aspect of an awakened Self, a Self that knows the unifying Spirit who is the essence of all energy in the Universe. He grapples with the personal experience of realizing that an immortal essence dwells in his mortal body.
Have we done that, wrestled with the meaning of life for ourselves and come to experience it for ourselves? Just saying that we believe someone else’s account is meaningless. It is personal, yet once we come to know our own hearts, we realize the intricate relationship of all. This is part of the irony of “Song of Myself,” because in celebrating Self, Walt realizes that when we find joy in that personal knowledge, it links us with everyone else — no matter who they are or what they do: “Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes)” (Section 51).
Do you want significance, peace, fulfillment, purpose, love? Hear your own heart, and know that self-knowledge brings us to understand that the great Purpose combines our individual purposes to benefit one another here. We are not in this alone. Awakening to self is not a selfish proposition: it is a proposition that puts us in relationship to all else, one that embraces the entire Universe.
Pretty amazing irony, isn’t it? I’m in. What about you?
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!