Courtney for 8/15

September 13th, 2009

            When I first started reading “Children of Adam” I was thinking that this was pretty far out for the 1890s.  An excessive amount of literature theory classes have taught me to consider context and time frame when reading a given work, but I still have in my mind this archaic idea of what life must have been like before blogs and Twitter.  I had to remind myself that people have always had the same sorts of longings and desires.  Sex couldn’t have been much different in past centuries, but since it was not publicized as much as it is now, it’s hard to imagine.             

            Towards the end of class last Tuesday, we began to touch on the idea of the body and the soul.  Whitman discusses the interconnectivity of the two, how they work together, how they are different, and how they are the same.  This is a tricky idea, one that has been investigated by religion, science, medicine, and literature.  Yes, we are bodies made up of pumping blood and muscles and bone.  But we are also so much more.  Just where do our parts stop and or souls begin?  When you think about it, sex is a pretty perfect allegory to explain how although we are just animals composed of basic parts, it is what is inside of us that allows us to feel the experience of life.

            After reading the article by Reynolds, I was honestly a little disappointed.  What had started as this super-lusty poem that I was picturing as being offensive and vulgar actually seemed pretty tame.  I changed my mind though, when I understood the context a little better, it only made the poem more beautiful.  It’s not about sex.  It’s not about heterosexuality or homosexuality.  It’s just about the union between two souls.  Regardless of gender, orientation or the nature of the relationship.  Whitman says that he “will plant companionship thick as trees along all the rivers of America…” In a time when the nation was recovering after being ripped apart, turning brothers against brothers and neighbors against neighbors, Whitman asks simply for everyone to just get along.  I took Whitman out of my mental category including Thoreau and Emerson and moved him in to the category with John Lennon and Bob Dylan.

            Overall I got this message of “oneness.”  Everything is connected and we need to accept our connections in open, positive ways.  Whitman believes in love, every kind of love between men and women, men and men or women and women.  He believes in relationships, every kind of relationships be them friendly, romantic or sexual.  Just as our bodies are more than just the sum of our body parts, are lives must too be enriched by the company and camaraderie of others.

One Response to “Courtney for 8/15”

  1. Avatar of jpike1 jpike1 on September 14, 2009 1:24 pm

    After reading your post these lyrics from Hal David came to mind, “What the world needs now is love sweet love. It’s the only thing that there is just too little of.” I also feel that friendship is the overall message that Whitman wants readers to take away from this selection in Leaves of Grass. Although, he wanted to be original and include explicit sexual imagery in his poetry, he did not just focus on sex. Your post definitely conveys this message and shows how he wanted not only the union of bodies, but also the union of each human being as a nation.

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