Song of the Universal

Walt Whitman’s  “Song of the Universal” seems to be arguing that a person’s soul is tied to the earth and the universe. The poem seemed to be free style with no rhyming. The speaker is Whitman or at the very least someone who shares his beliefs and thus his voice. From an eco critical perspective, Whitman finds deep links between the human soul and the earth and nature. He says in lines nine and ten, “ None born but it is born, conceal’d or unconceal’d the seed is waiting.” He seems to be saying that the earth is a home to seeds, which would be souls, waiting to be planted, or born. He continues the theme of soul to earth linkage in line fourteen, “ Yet again, lo! the soul, above all science…” suggesting that while the soul is linked to the earth, it’s a mystical linkage and not a scientific linkage. Whitman has a sublime appreciation for nature and this attitude is reflected in view of the soul to earth relationship. I think he would want his listener to be someone who also appreciates nature and views it in the way he does; the poem makes little to no sense if not. Whitman also plays around with the idea of good and bad in reference to nature. In lines twenty-one through thirty-two he talks about ‘mystic evolution’ and that right is not necessarily good and that bad is not necessarily evil.  This is where I felt Whitman contradicted himself, because in the beginning of the poem he links souls to the earth, but in the third section of the poem he says, “Over the mountain-growths disease and sorrow, an uncaught bird is ever hovering, hovering, high in the purer, happier air.” This alludes to the idea that earth is a place of sorrow and the only way to escape it is to move up toward heaven. The religious/nature theme is also present in this poem, but doesn’t seem to hold as much weight with Whitman as does spirituality.

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