One's Self I Sing

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One’s Self I sing: paraphrase

One’s Self I sing, a simple separate person

Yet utter the word Democratic, the word En-Masse.

I sing for myself, as an individual man,

Who say the word Democratic and the word En-Masse.

Of physiology from top to toe I sing,

Not physiognomy alone nor brain alone is worthy for the Muse, I say

The Form complete is worthier far,

The Female equally with the Male I sing.

I sing with the whole body,

Because neither face nor brain alone is worthy to the muse,

The united of all is that worthier,

I sing to equality of Male and Female.

Of Life immense in passion, pulse, and power,

Cheerful, for freest form’d under the laws divine,

The Modern Man I sing.        

Life is enormous with passion, pulse and power,

So cheerful for freedom under the holy law,

I sing to Modern Man.

One’s Self I sing: analysis


        First of all, due to the final version of Leaves of Grass in 1891 begins its contents with this poem.  It interestingly conveys the meaning of repudiation to European culture by the employment of “One Self” at the first line.  Traditionally, poets in Europe would invoke the muse at the beginning of a poem or a collection as—from those divine—is where poetry came from.  Thus, in Whitman’s point of view, to put “One Self” at the very beginning means to regard “One” as the source to poetry, and to highlight something about “One Self” significantly.

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        By saying that the Leaves of Grass functions as American epic, the employment of “One Self” in the first stanza highlights American identity very clearly;

 “One’s Self I sing, a simple separate person

Yet utter the word Democratic, the word En-Masse.”

Whitman started the opening line celebrating “One Self” who is a “simple separate person.”

In this way he had mentioned the primary and most important identity of American nation which is individuality.  

Simultaneously, the second line of the stanza distinguishes the most valuable properties of those individuals, it is Democracy and Unity.

The citation of Democracy and Unity traces ...

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