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Word Count: 1,274
Through his poetry Whitmans Song of Myself makes the soul sensual and makes divine the flesh In Whitmans time the dichotomy between the soul and the body had been clearly defined by centuries of Western philosophy and theology Today the goodness of the soul and the badness of the flesh still remain a significant notion in contemporary thought Even Whitmans literary predecessor Emerson chose to distinctly differentiate the soul from all nature Whitman however chooses to reevaluate that relationship His exploration of human sensuality particularly human sexuality is the tool with which he integrates the spirit with the flesh Key to this integration is Whitmans notion of the ability of the sexual self to define itself This self-definition is derived from the strongly independent autonomy with which his sexuality speaks in the poem Much of the Song of Myself consists of a cacophony of Whitmans different selves vying for attention It follows that Whitmans sexual self would likewise find itself a voice A number of passages strongly resonate with Whitmans sexuality in their strongly pleasurable sensualities The thoroughly intimate encounter with another individual in section five particularly expresses Whitman as a being of desire and libido Whitman begins his synthesis of the soul and body through sexuality by establishing a relative equality between the two He pronounces in previous stanzas You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself and Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile and none shall be less familiar than the rest Here he lays foundation for the basic egalitarianism with which he treats all aspects of his being for the rest of the poem This equality includes not only his sexuality but in broader terms his soul and body In the opening to section five Whitman explicitly articulates that equality in the context of the body and soul I believe in you my soul the other I am must not abase itself
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