Deciphering Walty is a new thing that I plan on doing frequently on my blog. I recently read the book ‘Paper Towns’ by John Green. In the book is mentioned a book called ‘Leaves Of Grass’ written by Walt Whitman. I got curious and ordered the book. So here I am, trying to decipher poetry by Walt Whitman. Please do note that these are my personal opinions and you don’t have to agree with them. For all you know, I might be wrong more than half the time. But that’s not the point. The point is trying to understand poetry myself and enjoying the process. Also I won’t be doing this for every poem in the book because there’s like a boat-load of poems in this book. I’ll do this for a few select poems. I hope you enjoy the first installment of Deciphering Walty!!
‘One’s Self I Sing’ is quite a tough poem to interpret. It is the first among many in the book ‘Leaves Of Grass’. I didn’t really think I would get such a tough one at the very beginning. I spent a few days trying to understand it. In the end, I had an explanation that makes sense to me although it may not be the most apt explanation of the poem.
Google results say that in the poem, Walty says that the ‘Modern Man’ despite being an individual, is also aware that he is a part of a society. Despite being separate, he is all together. He talks of the ‘Form complete’. He says that not just our outward appearance nor our brain and thoughts alone are enough. It is the entire being that lives, that breathes, that inspires creativity. In that matter, whether the being is male or female does not matter. It is the entire being, the entire form that matters.
I, however, have a different opinion. I feel like the poem is about loneliness. I feel like Walty insists upon his loneliness. He says that he is a ‘simple separate person’. Yet people utter the word democratic, the word en masse. I feel like he says-
“Okay then, you think I am all together. Well, yes. I am all together. My entire form exists together, not separate body parts. Not my facial expressions, nor just my thoughts are enough for creative inspiration. It is the form complete that does that.”
I feel like he says that he sings with all his life, all his passion and all his power. He sings with everything he has. All together. The only laws that apply to him are the laws of God. It does not matter what the people say.


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