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论惠特曼


思想战线

2013 年人文社会科学专辑 第 39 卷 №. 2013 Vol. 39

论惠特曼 《自我之歌 》 中的 “ 自我意识 ” On Whitman’ s “ Self ”in Song of Myself
江滢滢①
Abstract : Walt Whitman ’ s Song of Myself is

one of his longest and most representative poems, expressing his strong intention of seeking a definition of “self”and achieving self - consciousness. He implied efficiently his sense of “self ” ,which guides the readers to lead their lives with a positive outlook and an optimistic attitude. Key Words: Song of Myself ; self ; self - consciousness

“I celebrate myself , and sing myself ” - Walt Whitman passionately began to sing the Song of Myself ,his longest and most representative poem. But in this poem, Whitman kept asking questions: “What is ’ myself ’ ?” ,“What is a man anyhow ? what am I ? what are you ? ” ,which were also philosophical questions one would ask oneself through life. So beside celebrating and singing for “myself ” , the poet ’ s real purpose of writing the poem was to seek a definition of “self ” and to lead the readers onto the road toward achieving self - consciousness. Life can always be the best teacher of all. One of the many reasons why Whitman can explore so deeply into the real sense of “self ” is that he had experienced a lot in the real society. Before writing the poem,Whitman had been living together with different ranges of people ,which gave him chances to know better about how ordinary people led their lives in different ways. Like other American writers, such as Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway ,Whitman got much of his education from his newspaper work ,which later helped him forming a basic understanding of the current issues happening in the then America. From life ,Whitman learned the truth on which he laid the fundamental theme of his poem. To Whitman ,“self ”contains the whole society : working men and women ; all races and ethnic groups ; people of all ages; hunters, sailors, farmers

and slaves; even the butcher - boy and blacksmiths. So he sang out loudly , “I celebrate myself and sing myself , And what I assume you shall assume , For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. ” ( Whitman , 32 ) Being “self”means man could feel the harmony between man and nature. Whitman requested for several times that man needed to feel the embrace of nature and try to be part of nature. Man should “loaf and invite ”his “soul ”while observing nature : to be “undisguised and naked ”like a new - born baby ; to feel the contact with nature ; to smell the fresh air around him. In order to convince the readers the connection of man and nature ,Whitman also employed different imageries in the poem to create pictures in the readers’mind and convey the theme of the poem. Images of the sniff of green leaves and dry leaves,the sound of voices and wind ,the play of shine and shade on the trees,the delight alone or in the streets and the feeling of health could all be found in the second section of the poem. All these images created a vivid picture of nature and surroundings in which man was living ,and this picture also helped the interpretation of “self”in nature. Being “self ” means all men are equal so that they share the right to be treated equally. The concept of freedom and equality was also clearly shown

① 作者简介: 江滢滢,云南大学滇池学院外国语学院讲师 ( 云南 昆明,650228 ) 。

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思想战线

2013 年人文社会科学专辑 第 39 卷 №. 2013 Vol. 39

in Song of Myself. According to Whitman , life of all men or things existing in this world should be appreciated equally. So he sang for nature ,for people of all social status,for love between man and woman , even for love between man and man. Nobody had the right to make the judgement that the love between man and man was not true love. Even though this type of love was not commonly blessed ,Whitman sang for it and felt proud of being part of it, which indicated his universal love towards anything he could feel or devote himself to. That ’ s why he described so boldly in the poem the male bodies and the love scene of man together with other men , which to other writers at that time were totally unacceptable. Being “self”means you have to invite your soul to join you while experiencing your journey through life. In Whitman ’ s poem,God was described as a being equal with humans,who had his own temper and did things what were commonly done by humans. God was just like an ordinary man who led a real life. But Whitman believed that man ’ s soul could live forever. Soul could be pure ,holy and even superior to God. This inspiring assumption really highlighted Whitman ’ s passion and his feeling proud for all human beings. So he sang , “I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of the Soul, The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me. ”

( Whitman , 56 ) Being self means man should hold the belief of ,so time and eternity. “The past and present wilt ” Whitman “proceeded to fill ” his “next fold of the future ” - future suggested eternity. Whitman sang that he was large , he contained multitudes. Man ’ s soul was capable of continuing long into eternity. Man could always expect things that would happen in the future because man had vision - a vision of the past,of the present,and most importantly ,a vision of the future ,of eternity. That ’ s the greatness of man. People could always be inspired and encouraged while reading Song of Myself because the consciousness of “self”could always be aroused. Whitman implied so successfully his sense of “self ” in his poem,which would guide us to lead our lives with a positive outlook and an optimistic attitude. 参考文献: [ 1] Laurie E. Rozakis, How to Interpret Poetry, Shanghai: Shanghai Translation publishing House, 2005. [ 2] Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, New York: Simon & Schuster,Inc, 2006. [ 3] Wu Weiren,History and Anthology of American Literature, Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 1990.

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