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Word Count: 900
In any medium of art that is personal to the artist a change in the artwork can represent a change in the artist During a period of depression a musician may write heavier less upbeat music or a painter may shift to darker tones and more downcast themes The medium of poetry certainly has the power to reflect the writers moods and mental state and the poetry of Walt Whitmans demonstrates this power A comparison of Song of Myself one of Whitmans earlier poems and As I Ebbd With the Ocean of Life a poem from later in his career reveals a great change in Whitman from a man of confidence and optimism to one of dissatisfaction and self-doubt The publication of Leaves of Grass the book in which Song of Myself was published is the most notable achievement of Walt Whitmans early career Whitman set very lofty goals for Leaves of Grass He hoped to write more than simply a set of poems that could be read and enjoyed by Americans he wanted Americans to be absorbed by his poetry He hoped to save America by bringing together a nation on the brink of civil war Whitman required an enormous amount of optimism to be able to fill the role that he felt he should fill The task of bringing together the nation through poetry is a great challenge and Whitman must have had great confidence in himself to take on the responsibility This optimism shows through in Whitmans earlier poetry For example the first line of Song of Myself reads I CELEBRATE myself and sing myself This confident opening sets the mood for a poem that bursts with bold statements that could only be made by a person with great certainty in his statements and great confidence in the verisimilitude of his declarations Song of Myself preaches universal oneness and beauty and in the poem Whitman asserts the harmony of his life
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