Walt Whitman's Song of Myself broken down into the elements of character, imagery, language, theme, tone, and form.

Essay by steve111783College, UndergraduateA-, February 2004

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Walt Whitman changed the way poetry is viewed today by

his use of free verse. He was one of the first poets to use

this type of poetry which does not use regular rhyme scheme

and meter. Whitman was not appreciated or admired at first

for using this type of writing. Even though he abandoned

meter and rhyme schemes, he still used many poetic elements,

such as character, imagery, language, theme, tone, and form.

One poem that displays these elements is Song of Myself from

his collection of poems called Leaves of Grass. Just a

single section of this poem will contain all the elements


One aspect of Whitman's character I like most is the

way he uses free verse and doesn't adapt rhyme scheme and

meter, which was the most popular style of writing during

his time. It seems to me that Whitman himself is the speaker

of the poem and I could tell this when he says "It seems to

me more than all the print I have read in my life" (236).

This not only suggests that he is the speaker of the poem

but it also shows the amount of reading he has done. The

speaker uses clear images to describe a horse jockey when he


The negro holds firmly the reins of his horse,

the block swags underneath on its tied-over-chain,

The negro that drives the long dray of the stone-

yard, steady and tall he stands pois'd on one leg

on the string-piece, His blue shirt exposes his

ample neck and breast and loosens over his

hip band (225-227).

I feel that these images suggest that black men are equal to

white men because a horse jockey is somewhat considered a

noble sport and at the time Whitman wrote this,