Walt Whitman, perhaps America’s most significant, ground-breaking and God-intoxicated poet, preferred to invest his poetic mastermind in religion and uniting all human races in friendship ties. It is to a certain extent a declaration for a poet or an author to affirm that a fresh literary work signifies the establishment of a new religious principle. This is how Whitman strongly believed in God. Human beings’ make up has both body and soul. This paper will attempt to take sides about whether Whitman had been a poet of the body or of the soul. It requires deep scrutiny so as to come up with straightforward claims that he was either a poet of the mind or a poet of the soul. This is because his literary work had the blend of these two ideas; he is conjoining the soul and the body, which are spiritual and sensual respectively.
In my opinion, Whitman was more the poet of the soul than of the body. My argument is based on the information that he believed in God and religion. These two aspects are heavily compatible, and the belief in God concerns matters of the soul more than the body. God is unseen, but he believed he is omnipresent and did not need to inquire more about or doubt God’s existence. In “Song of Myself”, he writes: “Why should I wish to see God better than this day? I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then, In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass,” (“Song of Myself,” 1276-78).
Whitman put forward three key tenets of the religious principles in “Leaves of Grass”, in which the third acted as a prop of the preceding two. These include the bond linking the human body and the human soul, which brings together all humanity and makes their bodies and their souls as one, and also the value of the unification of human bodies and souls in an erotic way. Whitman’s handling of these diverse principles in his religion is depicted all through “Leaves of Grass.” He writes, “I am the poet of the body…I am the poet of the soul:” (“Song of Myself” 21) and the unification of the body and the soul (“Song of Myself,” 422-23). It is tricky to argue out one of these entities not including the other, as they predictably become intertwined in his poetry. A remarkable example of the above argument originates from the poem “The Sleepers.” It also seals the argument that he was more the poet of the soul than of the body. He writes, “The myth of heaven indicates the soul; The soul is always beautiful…it appears more or it appears less, it comes or lags behind, it comes from its embowered garden and looks pleasantly on itself and encloses the world.” (“The Sleepers” 167-169).
Whitman’s analysis of the human character involves the soul and the body which are two indivisible parts, and consequently it outlines the basis leading to the construction of his new religion. His argument is simply outlined in a concisely authoritative line from the poem “Song of Myself”: he writes, “…the soul is not more than the body…the body is not more than the soul… nothing, not God, is greater to one than one’s-self is” (1262-64). These astonishing, faintly blasphemous lines make the implication that the union of the body and the soul to Whitman openly clear.