Just another Looking for Whitman weblog


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George_Fox250px-Elias_Hicks_3b44203rThe way a person is brought up defines a good part of who they’ll grow up to be. Not to say that you can’t change or discover new things about yourself, but that upbringing gives you roots, whether positive or negative that plants your feet, firmly, on the ground you stand. This will follow you through-out your life as a guide in all decisions that you make and several of the paths you will take, which brings me to Whitman. The roots of his father and mother are also his roots, impressed on his brain, affecting his very thoughts. Being influenced by “The Society of Friends”, for a nice part of his young life, their principles became his anthem. As in most religions, there are splinter groups that break off from the roots and become their own denomination or sect of a religious group. I say this to inform you that not all Quakers have the same outlook on what they believe but two beliefs stand out for the most part. And they are: that a direct connection with The Divine is yours and yours alone. No one else can make that connection for you, like a priest, pastor, Imam or any other middleman. You must find the divine in you, a statement expressed by one of their founders, George Fox, who stated “Christ is come to teach his people himself”. And the other belief is living your life, openly expressing the first belief. This reminds me of a statement I once read that stated, “Walk in the sun as if the whole world can see you”. Don’t hide who you are or feel ashamed of the divine in you. Show it so that all who see you see me.  Elias Hicks was the influence on Walt Whitman. Whitman grew up hearing him preach. Hicks was a bit unorthodox in his style and caused division between  “The Society of Friends”, which began the splintering of the society, as in most religions, causing individual sects to form.quakerQuakerTheir way of living was simple, caring, looking out for one another and causing no one harm. You can see why Walt Whitman was so offended by the mistreatment of others. His background guided him throughout his life.

“I exist as I am, that is enough,

If no other in the world be aware I sit content,

And if each and all be aware I sit content.

Leaves of Grass, “Song of Myself” (48) Barnes and Noble Classics 2004

“And I know that the hand of God is the elderhand of my own,

And I know that the spirt of God is the eldest brother of my own,

And that all the men ever born are also my brothers….and the women my sisters and lovers,

And that a kelson of the creation is love;

leaves of Grass, “Song of Myself” (33) Barnes and Noble Classics 2004

Walt Whitmans biggest supporter 200px-Ralph_Waldo_Emerson_ca1857Ralph Waldo Emerson was not directly a Quaker but his ideals and the circumstances of that time, Emerson saw himself seeing eye to eye with the Quakers beliefs and ideas. Emerson was the head of the transendentalist movement as well as a philosoper and poet. In that sense Emerson could have seen Walt Whitman as his brother, shareing the same cause, fighting the same fight, when many people didn’t want to hear the truth about themselves. That still exist today and you can see that people still don’t like to hear about themselves. And history proves that people will go to extremes to quite you.

Refer to “The Quaker influence in American Literature” by Howard W. Hintz 1965 (49-75)

walt Form beginning to end Walt’s roots stayed with him. Through his ups and downs, even his dark side, if you want to call it that, Walt Whitman still held on to his roots and love of people.


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