Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman Essay

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Walt Whitman is possibly one of the best examples of an artist who drew no distinctions between art and culture. To Whitman art is culture, and culture is history. His role as an artist must then be intrinsically manifesting himself as a representative of the America masses, or express himself as America personified. He saw democracy as an inseparable attribute of Americaness. However, the America he lived in was desperately fractured amongst differing factions with different opinions on the definition of “democracy”. Regardless, Whitman did not see the problems of his day as a top versus bottom, bottom versus top issue (no entendre intended). But, rather, an issue that exploded out of every orifice of American life.

Ernesto Guevara
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Whitman attempts to express absolute freedom, while also influencing the society of his day in order to progress it into a drastically more fair, collective, and egalitarian direction by any means necessary – even if that comes about by using capitalist modes of production (Pascal, 47).

When Walt Whitman began publishing Leaves of Grass, America teetered at the edge of a great chasm created by social and economic crisis; slavery and capitalism its progenitor. Undoubtedly this time called for great poets and visionaries to usher in the change necessary to endure those bleak, catastrophic times. In retrospect readers and critics, especially confederate apologists, can look at Whitman and undermine his message due to his party line support for the dominant political machine. However, Whitman stood for something far larger than north or south, union or confederate, Republican or Demoncrat, he stood for a revolutionary change in how America saw itself as a nation, and how it should operate as a free nation. That said, not the America which persists today, nor the one that directly followed the Civil War is, or was, the one at which Walt Whitman aimed. “Pressing the pulse of the life that has seldom exhibited itself / … / Chanter of Personality, outlining what is yet to be, / I project the history of the future” (Whitman, 3). In all, Leaves of Grass is not

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