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Song of Myself

Song of Myself

by Walt Whitman

Section 33 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

  • Now that Whitman has his imagination galloping, we've got to go somewhere. This section takes us from place to place, story to story.
  • He compares his vision to a ship leaving the port on a journey. His "Soul" is traveling, but not his body.
  • His vision roams all over America, from the cities to farms to rivers and the desert. He takes us so many places that we'd need to repeat every line just to name all of them.
  • The word "where" is repeated over and over again, as in "I go where this happens and this happens, etc."
  • He places images of animals and humans side by side.
  • Later he starts repeating the word "pleased" to show how happy he is with all he sees.
  • Eventually he's not just traveling through America, but through the entire universe. He follows along with meteors and planets.
  • He's in our veins, he's everywhere.
  • He stops his ship to take a rest, but then continues on again.
  • Now he talks about the battlefield and then, in typical Whitman style, loops back to sex again. In one of the poem's funnier lines, he says he kicks a new husband out of his bed and makes a move on the guy's wife. He's kidding, of course: he only means that there's no experience he wants to be excluded from.
  • He talks about heroic actions and people who suffered through great hardships.
  • He wants to be able to say, "I am the man . . . I suffered . . . I was there."
  • He wants to experience every part of the scenes he describes. He puts himself in the shoes of a runaway slave and a fireman.
  • He participates in a bloody battle and admires the army general who cares more about defending his position than about his own life.
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