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Walt Whitman’s Children Of Adam Essay

1145 words - 5 pages

Walt Whitman’s "Children of Adam"

Walt Whitman will forever live in the minds of individuals as one of America’s greatest poets. People in America and all over the world continue to read and treasure his poetry. He was an original thinker, contributing new modern styles to poetry. He was unafraid of controversy and uninhibited by what others may think of him. He created his own path in poetry, as he describes himself in an anonymous review of his poetry: "But there exists no book or fragment of a book which can have given the hint to them" (Whitman). His poetry was not inspired or affected by those who wrote before him; according to him, his poetry came entirely from "beautiful blood ...view middle of the document...

" Whitman’s refusal to shy away from taboo subjects disgusted and offended many of the people of his day, but Whitman possessed "determination not to yield to censorship or to apologize for his earlier poems" (Baym 2079).

One poem that Whitman penned without being concerned with offending people is "Children of Adam." "Children of Adam" is a languid, sensual poem that is overtly sexual. As Whitman says in his poem, he is "singing the phallus,/singing the song of procreation." He does not try to cover up the purpose or meaning of the poem, he does not veil his allusions to sex or "the phallus."

Not only does Whitman plainly discuss sex, he describes both women and men as if he finds them attractive and in fact asserts, "The love of the body of man or woman balks account, the body itself balks account,/That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect." In this passage I see Whitman as saying that because both the female body and the male body are so beautiful, no person should feel ashamed for loving or desiring them, regardless of that person’s gender. Describing the woman, he says, "The female form approaching, I pensive, love-flesh tremulous aching," showing how much she arouses him. Yet he also describes a man and says, "You would wish to sit/by him in the boat that you and he might touch each other." While he does not make such an overt comment about feeling aroused, I think the fact that he yearns to touch this man illustrates his bisexual tendencies. He also discusses firemen sensually, describing their bodies as "the play of masculine/muscle through clean-setting trousers and waist-straps." He seems to have a great appreciation for muscle, which is associated with the male body more than the female body, again illustrating the fact that he finds the male body desirable. Whitman even goes so far as to say, "Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousness of his sex," which is exactly what he avows to in "Children of Adam."

Later in the poem Whitman reiterates the beauty of both the female and male form: "The man’s body is sacred and the woman’s body is sacred," so now the bodies are not only perfect, they are sacred—they deserve to be revered and loved. The fact that the word...

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