Analysis: Steaminess Rating
Exactly how steamy is this poem?
Whitman was completely unashamed about human eroticism and sexuality, at least when he first published the poem in 1855. He thought sex was natural, and not something to giggle or blush about. "Song of Myself" is loaded with sexual images, particularly of the homoerotic variety. Nowadays, scholars make a big deal about all this homoeroticism, often trying to prove that Whitman was gay. But it says something about Whitman's society (and ours) that the most controversial parts of the poem for audiences of his time were the ones depicting straight sex – between married people, no less.. In particular, Whitman felt compelled to cut out the lines from section 21: "Thruster holding me tight and that I hold tight! We hurt each other as the bridegroom and the bridge hurt each other."