Study Guide

Song of Myself Section 41

By Walt Whitman

Section 41

  • Whitman continues to play the role of World Helper Savior Guy. He helps both the sick and the healthy alike.
  • Then, abruptly, he shifts to the topic of wisdom about the universe. He's talking about religion but doesn't say so directly. He thinks that all this wisdom is well and good, but it doesn't capture the essence of the world.
  • He thinks that people who want to interpret the world for others are "hucksters," and – sexual image alert! – they offer less of value than a drop of his own "seminal wet." (Whitman also removed this saucy line in later editions, but we're still working off the 1855 edition.)
  • He doesn't need anyone to tell him about all the different gods of the world. He'll take stock of the world's religions for himself.
  • These religions had their value in their day, but the world has risen above and beyond them. He sees a spiritual power revealed in nature and humanity, in people working and going about their daily lives.
  • He doesn't need the supernatural and thinks that even the dirt on the ground is worthy of worship.
  • He doesn't seem hostile to religion itself so much as to preachers and the clergy class who tell others what and how to think.