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JWU ILS 2090 - Whitman Reflection

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ReferencesLorraine AcostaILS209029 September 2019Whitman ReflectionFor this assignment, I chose the eleventh section of the poem. In this section, there is a woman watching twenty-eight young men bathing in the sea. She describes their semi-nude bodies in some detail and fantasizes about joining them, unseen. The invisible twenty-ninth bather offers a model of being much like that of Emerson’s “transparent eyeball;” to truly experience the world one must be fully in it and of it, yet distinct enough from it to have some perspective, and invisible so as not to interfere with it unduly. This paradoxical set of conditions describes perfectly the poetic stance Whitman tries to assume (Whitman, 1892). The lavish eroticism of this section reinforces the idea that sexual contact allows two people to become one yet not one; a moment of transcendence. As the woman introduced in the beginning of the passage fades away and Whitman’s voice takes over, the eroticism becomes homoeroticism. Again, this is not so much the expression of a sexual preference as it is the longing for communion with every living being and a connection that makes use of both the body and the soul (Whitman, 1892), although Whitman certainly uses the homoerotic sincerely, and, in other ways, too, particularly for shock value.ReferencesWhitman, Walt. "A Song of Myself." 1892.


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