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Word Count: 623
Walt Whitmans begins this excerpt from Leaves of Grass by describing an elusive this This is the meal pleasantly set this is the meat and drink for natural hunger These two clauses that are set next to each other describe this as very different things A meal pleasantly set evokes a quiet table in a genteel household In contrast the meat and drink for natural hunger recalls a more rugged table at which the food will be consumed after strenuous activity How can one thing--this--have such opposing properties The entire excerpt is defined by the outward contradictions such as this one Whitmans poetic rhetoric however attempts to create an internal unity from the contradictions By unifying things that seem diametrically opposed Whitman emphasizes the possibility for reconciliation between disparate objects Whitman places two contrasting ideas next to each other at all levels of the excerpt The most prominent level at which he does this is in the images as in the first line He continues setting contrasting images on either side of ellipses when he again describes the this This is the touch of my lips to yours this is the murmur of yearning The contrast here is between the corporeal sensation referenced in the first clause and the more internal emotive sensation expressed in the second clause Two contrasting ideas again appear in the larger theme of the excerpt In the beginning he makes a list of people with very different characteristics and says that he will make appointments for all The inclusivity of the early moments is in sharp contrast to the exclusivity of the last line of the excerpt where he says I might not tell everybody but I will tell you On the largest scale Whitman creates a contrast in the structural elements of the poem The poem begins with a disorganized array of clausessome set around ellipses some standing alone There
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