Graduation Date

5-2021

Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree

Bachelor of Arts

Primary Major

English

Program Director

Carlos Rodriguez, MA

Thesis Advisor

Carlos Rodriguez, MA

Abstract

One of the most influential and well recognized writers of the 19th century is Walt Whitman. He created works that changed the way that individuals saw the world around them and themselves. Walt Whitman was vocal about the absolut originality of his work and that he never took ideas from outside influence, but regardless of his own claims, his work presents a clear allusion to Eastern thought that particularly resembles that of the Tao te Ching. Some of the concepts that he underlines in his own work include but are not limited to simplicity, compassion, and patience. These aren’t the only principles he relates to, as he also has a clear understanding of the universe and the divine.

Walt Whitman was an extremely well read individual, meaning that even though he claimed to never have read the Tao te Ching, it’s influence for “Song of Myself” is plausible. This essay seeks to reveal the underlying Taoist concepts and ideals that are present in Walt Whitman’s 1855 publication “Song of Myself.” Whitman tended to write in ways that forced the reader to come to their own conclusions, and discussing the similarities of these two works helps critics to better understand him. Knowing these similarities allows readers to understand where the ideas could have come from.

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