Walt Whitman And His Importance For Modern Society

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Freedom: to walk free and own no superior – (Walt Whitman). The United States of America is considered the world’s first democracy that evolved to having a dynamic nature that allowed every segment of society to express its problems and demand the solution. Civil Liberty is the jewel in the crown of American democracy. Walt Whitman is considered to be the first poet of America who introduced pure American values. He began making notes toward the poem that is remembered and recited as “Song of Myself”. He called himself the poet of slaves and the master of slaves as he believed that everyone was equal in the eyes of nature and that every slave has the capability to become a master. Thus he spoke like a pure democratic poet who wants this world to become a place where everyone is equal and is treated equally. Not only America, but he considered and glamorized all the world communities as equal and respectable. The world is now divided into many ideologies and these divisions are causing many global conflicts like trade wars and clashes in the Middle East. All these conflicts can be addressed if we follow Whitman’s advice: Be curious, not judgmental. The world needs Walt Whitman more than ever, because it is only he who can convince the world communities to respect others and live coherently.


Walt Whitman has an optimistic approach towards the world and he teaches us to observe beauty and musicality in every phenomenon around. His poem “I Hear America Singing” is the evidence of this argument that observing the beauty around is typical to Whitman. He claims in the title of the poem that he hears America singing. A whole country is like a musical instrument of a melody queen before Whitman which is busy in its own melodious world, unaware of what is happening around. He mentions a carpenter, mason, boatman, shoemaker, ploughboy, and wood-cutter and everyone is busy in singing the song of his own job at the workplace and women are singing while working at home. Thus, the world is melodious and harmonious for Whitman. Whitman does not undermine any segment of society or profession, but rather, glamorizes everyone equally. Moreover, he says: “Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else”. This feeling of revering everyone equally and demanding equal freedom for everyone is typical to Whitman. Whitman campaigned for a kind of society where no one is exploited, subjugated, or disrespected. Whitman’s poetry seems written typically for today’s world because the values that he expresses were absent from American society when Whitman was alive. Now, the world is again contaminated by hate and prejudice for others and mutual receptiveness and openness become a short commodity. Only a poet like Walt Whitman can point out the ill beliefs of hate and prejudice in society and it is only he who can convince the global community to develop a global culture.

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“Song of Myself” is another considerable poem of Walt Whitman that seems written in the present world’s context as Whitman highlights self-love which is not a new phenomenon, but it was not so apparent in the world, in the past. He says in the poem, “I am large, / I contain multitudes,”. The voice here that is vast enough and indiscriminate enough to find within itself, all the possibilities of American identity, would become the great democratic voice, and eventually a voice for the citizens of the country to aspire to. Whitman kept America in view because he was writing in a pre-globalized world where subjects of poetry rarely crossed the boundaries of their countries. If Whitman were in a globalized world, he must have written for the people of every community, beyond the borders of America, because he never minded writing for those who were crushed or ignored by exploiters and literary writers. Currently, the world is so divided in many social, economic, political, and racial ways that it seems impossible to imagine a single unifying voice that speaks for the world and that is colorblind to socio-political, racial, or economic conflicts or disagreements. Every voice that, we observe, claims to speak for the world as a whole, is in fact lying, and it is a divisive voice, alienating as many people as it unifies. It means feeding a certain group of people with food and another with poison. It is only Walt Whitman who has the capability to write equally for all without having prejudice for any group.


Walt Whitman is considered a great American poet, currently, who has influenced a large number of great poets of different countries due to his writings ornamented with democratic values, but he was perhaps barking up at the wrong tree while he was alive. It is the world of today that needs a poet like Walt Whitman more than any other era, because few poets today, have the guts to write for everyone being colorblind to socio-economic, racial, and political differences with the people he or she is writing about, except if we have Whitman alive today. Walt Whitman is famous for urging people to observe beauty, harmony, and attraction in everything around, as we note in his poem, “I Hear America Singing”. His other poem, “Song of Myself”, urges its readers to respect and love themselves before they love anything else. Such an optimistic and motivational poet can help millions of people to renounce hate and depression, to start life with a passion of goodness and receptiveness.    


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