Presentation Title

Taoist Principles in "Song of Myself"

Location

Online - Session 1B

Start Date

4-21-2021 11:10 AM

Major Field of Study

English

Student Type

Undergraduate

Faculty Mentor(s)

Carlos Rodriguez, MA and Judy Halebsky, PhD

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

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 as well as themselves. Walt Whitman was vocal about the absolute originality of his work and that he never used ideas and concepts from outside influence. While his work was received differently in different areas across the globe, Eastern writers and readers found his work to be fascinating and influential. 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 epic poem, "Song of Myself," include but are not limited to simplicity, compassion, and patience. These aren’t the only principles he relates to, as he also portrays a clear understanding of the universe and the divine. 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 as a whole. On top of that, being able to pinpoint these similarities also enables readers to understand the origin of these ideas.

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Apr 21st, 11:10 AM

Taoist Principles in "Song of Myself"

Online - Session 1B

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 as well as themselves. Walt Whitman was vocal about the absolute originality of his work and that he never used ideas and concepts from outside influence. While his work was received differently in different areas across the globe, Eastern writers and readers found his work to be fascinating and influential. 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 epic poem, "Song of Myself," include but are not limited to simplicity, compassion, and patience. These aren’t the only principles he relates to, as he also portrays a clear understanding of the universe and the divine. 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 as a whole. On top of that, being able to pinpoint these similarities also enables readers to understand the origin of these ideas.