The Soul in “Song of Myself”

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I want to take a deeper look at two of the characters that Whitman includes in his poem “Song of Myself.” The first entity that Whitman introduces is his soul on line four. He writes, “I loafe and invite my Soul;” The use of the word “invite” sticks out to me in this line as it implies that the soul is something separate from the entity writing this poem. The idea that the soul is “invited in” contributes to Whitman’s construction of this entity as something that is not a part of any one individual, but something that connects individuals to each other and to the natural world. Another entity that Emerson introduces in his poem is the “Me myself.” The “Me myself” is described as Whitman’s most fundamental character. It is an entity that is not concerned with day-do-day societal concerns but is very individual and subjective. The “Me myself” is a part of Whitman that he believes to be very important. This entity, along with the soul, is what allows Whitman to disengage from the worldly concerns and stresses of day-to-day life and feel at peace with the universe around him. In section 5 of the piece, Whitman asks the soul to provide him, “Not words, not music or rhyme I want—not custom or lecture, not even the best; Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.” (lines 77-78.) These lines present the image that the “hum” of the soul is something that allows Whitman to truly appreciate his connection to others and the natural world. The following lines depict an erotic engagement between Whitman and his own soul. This engagement furthers the idea that one’s soul is something that exists outside of oneself and that the relationship to one’s soul is something can yield peace and understanding in the universe. Whitman uses the characters of “the soul” and “me myself” to articulate aspects of his personality and how they connect to his notion of the universe. Though he doesn’t clearly define many of these entities in the poem, they are essential to understanding “Song of Myself” and are interesting concepts to think about.

One thought on “The Soul in “Song of Myself””

  1. I thought that Whitman’s concept of the Soul — which I agree, he describes as outside himself — was very similar to Emerson’s. Sadie’s already written about some of the similarities between these two authors, but I found their conceptualization of the Soul to be one of the major ones. Whitman’s Soul is outside of himself, I think, because he sees it as part of nature the same way that Emerson conceives of the soul as something that stems from and connects oneself to Nature.

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