Song of Myself-to “possess the origin of all poems” By: Walt Whitman


What is poetry? What is poetry to me, may not be poetry to you. I believe that poetry is a form of literary art used as a form of personal expression. When poems are published writers expose their thoughts and emotions to readers, and at the same time the writing itself is powerful enough to evoke existing emotions and thoughts in the readers mind. As William Wordsworth said, “poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.”

In other words, poetry is a great way to express raw and strong emotions, such writing immediately connects with readers. You may ask why the definition of poetry is of importance. Well, just as we may all have a slightly varying definition of what poetry is, our interpretation of poems is different as well. We all as human beings have differing life experiences and these experiences shape our personalities, attitudes, values as well as response to people or other things. Poetry is a form of art that brings about different emotions in each individual. According to Walt Whitman, it is good to have your own point of view on a piece of art and or literature.

In the poem Song of Myself by Walt Whitman, Whitman states that the key to “possess the origin of all poems” is through personal interpretations. More than often poems give insight to the feelings or thoughts of the writer. However, Whitman does not want readers to see the poem through his eyes. Whitman states:

“Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,

You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,)

You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,

You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,

You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.”

Whitman wants his readers to make their own connection with a piece of literature even if it is what he wrote. I find this quite intriguing because he is not asking anybody to figure out what he has to say, rather he wants the readers to consider what his words mean to them. Whitman wants the audience to go through the motion of reading via firsthand not through “second or third hand” experience. Whitman encourages his readers to not see things the way they are presented, but rather understand the subject matter from all aspects to create an interpretation that is solely your own.

Walt Whitman is a great verbal poet who effortlessly expresses his view in a mere six line stanza. It is amazing how he encourages individuals to make their view their own and not ideas fed to them from others. Although he does state that “you shall listen to all sides,” ultimately you should take the information you have and filter it to make it your own. At the end of the day, the only person whose view should matter is yours.





One thought on “Song of Myself-to “possess the origin of all poems” By: Walt Whitman

  1. I adore that Wordsworth quote. I believe there to be no other true definition of poetry.
    I really enjoyed reading your post (maybe because I agree completely with your words?), and found your analysis very succinct.
    I especially like the last line!


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