An Existential Perspective on Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself"
Morris, Christopher David
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This paper is basically a reading of "The Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman in relation to and in light of The Denial of Death by Ernst Becker. The discussion of Whitman will be centered around the topics of death and mortality and the impact of these existential problems on Whitman. What, in other words, is the creative and conscious attitude in Whitman relating to death? As the vibrant, throbbing living in Whitman's "Song of myself" develops, what of value is found concerning the conscious knowledge that life, at least in a physical sense, must end? What is the relationship between Becker's contemporary synthesis of existentialist thinking and the expansionistic ideas of mid-19th Century America as developed in Whitman? These are the areas of major concern. However, the importance of death (and the developed consciousness of death) is in its impact on life. Therefore, "The Song of Myself" in its growing pronouncement of a personal living philosophy must have a connection and possibly a solution for the existentialist problems.