Analyzing Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" Analytical Essay by Spider

Uses the critical strategies of formalism and Marxist literary criticism to analyze Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass".
# 151778 | 2,650 words | 10 sources | MLA | 2012 | KE
Published on Sep 25, 2012 in Literature (American) , Literature (Poetry) , English (Analysis)

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This paper explains that Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" emphasizes the value of patriotism, the pain of war and the importance and growth of democracy in the USA, described as epic. After introducing the various poems collected in the "Leaves of Grass", the author explains that his critical analytical strategies are formalism, which focuses on the structural purpose of a particular text, and Marxist literary criticism, which evaluates the way literary mirrors the social establishments from which the writings originate. The paper applies these strategies in detail to analyze two poems in "Leaves of Grass", "Song of Myself" and "Drum-Taps". An annotated bibliography and quotations are included.

Table of Contents:
Thesis Statement
Critical Strategies
Marxist Literary Criticism
"Song of Myself"

From the Paper:

"The poem can be described as both opaque and perspicuous. This is because it is almost blind in one eye while seeing very clearly in the other. It is quite simply a list of people and their doings. Some of its denizens are a policeman, a suicide, a baby in a cradle, boatmen, a fireman, a trapper and a runaway slave. A blacksmith, a butcher boy, a pilot, a carpenter, first-mates, a farmer, a duck shooter and a lunatic are also included. A machinist, a surgeon, a conductor, a coalman, a canal boy, a mathematician, a chemist, a geologist, a priest, a physician and a judge form the final lot. There is also an outstanding excess of verbs that relate these selves to world. These include loafing and leaning, seeing, feeling, hearing, listening, waiting and listening. The verbs then acquire an athletic tone as the poem progresses with the use of words like swimming, bathing, drinking, laughing, hunting, wondering, weeding, voyaging and prospecting. It is fascinating that all through this not once do we catch a glimpse of the poet. There is an opium eater and a prostitute but not a poet forging images and meanings using words and sentences. In this poem, the observer is not observed."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Brown, Gregory. Contemporary Reviews. The Walt Whitman Achive, 12 Sept. 2008. Web. 17 Jan. 2012. <>
  • James, Edel and Wilson Mark. Literary Criticism: Essays on literature, American writers, English writers. USA: Library of America, 1984. Print.
  • Long, Patricia. Song of Myself by Walt Whitman. The Daypoems Poetry Collection. 1819-1892. Web. 17 Jan. 2012. <>
  • Miller and Whitman Walt. Song of Myself: origin, growth, meaning. Edited by James E. Miller. USA: Dodd, Mead, 1964. Print..
  • Payne, William. American Literary Criticism. United States of America: Ayer Publishing, 1968. Print.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Analyzing Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" (2012, September 25) Retrieved May 18, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Analyzing Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass"" 25 September 2012. Web. 18 May. 2021. <>