Transcending the self and engaging with his country as the ultimate tasks of the true poet

What Walt Whitman may have intended to mean in that passage is that a true poet must immerse himself with the society and to his external environment in general. The poet must commune with his environment and not be confined with his self. He must learn to be sensitive with the things that exist outside himself  the loud, sporadic chirping of birds, the grumbles of the workers in a nearby factory, the brittled laughs of aged women in the neighborhood, or the rises and falls of trees and buildings. It is important that he keeps himself absorbed with his country because it is in this absorption where he will acquire the inspiration to write. By intimately knowing his world and the events happening in it, he will develop his personal opinions about them and in turn, will push him to portray using words what he perceives in his world.

It is likewise important that the country of the poet absorbs the master of language. The country where which the poet belongs must accept his craft and recognize his talent in rendering the world for them. The society must be amiable with the ideas presented by the poet. They need not to readily kowtow to the ideas being offered by the poet but they must entertain it and give it a thought.

For his part, Walt Whitman has tried to subdue his sexual identity in order to be renowned by the people around him  to be absorbed by his country. Homosexuality was still quite a taboo during these times and Whitman had to deflect this fact by writing good poetry which the people can appreciate. For instance, found within his classical work Leaves of grass is Song of myself. His homosexual side is evident in Song of myself although that is not all that is there in the text. This is most pointed in part 29. Despite the incorporations of these seemingly salacious contents, Whitman tempered them by discussing issues that pertain to other people. He espoused being critical of ones surroundings and not readily giving into what appears to be beautiful on the surface. In the second part of Song of myself, he said, Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves arecrowded withperfumes, I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it, The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it. (Burroughs 1902) He is incorporating more universal ideas in his poetry for it to be read and accepted by the people. He is implying that we must not be content by experiencing only a small fraction of the entire society. We should always be thirsty for more and more experiences. We must not be easily lured by experiencing one seemingly fantastic event. We can only wallow in it for a while but we must not let ourselves stay enraptured there forever The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.

Whitman was also born in an American society where slavery was still very pointed. As a child, he was early fascinated with nature, making that aspect very noticeable in his poetry. Perhaps, growing up while witnessing the social inequality experienced by slaves, it a picture of a better society  a better America  was ingrained in him. He secretly longed for a society where all the people treat one another equally and decently. In the first part of Song of myself, he was speaking of the similarity of all people in the world, despite difference in color, race or gender.

To meet the test of absorbing ones country and having oneself absorbed by his country, a poet, or anyone, just need to always open all of his senses as he fares in his personal. To get absorbed with ones country, one needs to put his entire concentration to the immediate image of the country where he belongs. He must be familiarized with the intricacies enveloped in his environment and interpret that environment in a socially acceptable way. He must have the persistent will to experience that environment and fathom the elements that reside in it. In addition to that, he must also be aware that his country is dynamic and so he must not stop from scrutinizing it. The operations within it are changing as well that he must constantly adjust his lenses to modify his interpretations.

Passing this test is meritorious because it confirms ones realization of the excellent ability to see beyond the surface level of things. To ordinary people, cars honking all over the street, young girls crying after being left by their parents in the daycare center or a storm blustering on a country may seem to be nothing extraordinary. To them, these things are usual occurrences that they appear to be rather normal and repetitive. They view these things as they are  what they are at surface value are already their true worth. They no longer consider them as having an underlying meaning beyond the surface. By succumbing to that assumption, these ordinary people fail to see the whole facade of these things. They are overly blinded by what they see on the surface that they are disabled in looking at the larger picture of things.

The opposite case is what applies to poets. Having themselves fully absorbed with their country, they create a deep link between the two of them that they are able to look more closely at the things in their country. They are aware of the fact that everything has a surface and deep structure which both need to be considered in attempting to comprehend the entirety of things. In that sense, their understanding of the world is better because it is rooted on some personal analysis based from what is being seen and what is not.

In this light, I am more bent to disagree with the idea that the true poet is often an outcast or an exile. He is neither an outcast nor an exile in the sense that he embraces the rest of the society  his external environment and the people, whom he shares that environment with. He is not and must not be a loner -- like Whitman who resorted to conformity and did not dare to be very iconoclastic with his poetry. He must make the people receive and acknowledge his works because only through that can he avow his being a true poet. He must also be able to transcend his self and move closer to the larger group of people and wider breadth of community that is waiting for the connections he must establish. The source of the true poets thought must not be narcissistic desires or self-interests. The inspiration of what he writes and depict through his poetry must come from his interactions with other people.

The idea that the poet is often scorned at or rejected by the society may be acceptable but only if we reword the statement and adjust it a bit. It may be more acceptable if we say that the poet is often misunderstood by other people. It is because he has a slightly different, much heightened way of looking at and examining things. But despite of that, the poet still cannot isolate himself from others. In spite of mismatched lines of thought, the poet must still pursue his ideas and keep on impinging himself and his words to other people. He must persist in presenting his perceptions to other people so they may share the light where the he thrives on.

Ultimately, Whitmans statement may be his way of refining the poet and the qualifications of being such. The true poet is not self-absorbed he has something to say aside from his own personal thoughts and dramas. He must engage and actively interact with elements outside himself  other people, and his surroundings  and from this engagement will emerge the deepest insights that he can impart through his poetic creations. He acquires the seeds of his ideas from the country where he founds himself and in return, he gives back to this country the products of his mental exercises and artistic endeavor  his poetry  all for the purpose of being absorbed by his country.


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