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Word Count: 1,267
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 soulfrom all nature Whitman however chooses to reevaluate that relationshipHis exploration of human sensuality particularly human sexuality is thetool with which he integrates the spirit with the fleshKey to this integration is Whitmans notion of the ability of the sexualself to define itself This self-definition is derived from the stronglyindependent autonomy with which his sexuality speaks in the poem Much ofthe Song of Myself consists of a cacophony of Whitmans different selvesvying for attention It follows that Whitmans sexual self would likewisefind itself a voice A number of passages strongly resonate with Whitmanssexuality in their strongly pleasurable sensualities The thoroughlyintimate encounter with another individual in section five particularlyexpresses Whitman as a being of desire and libidoWhitman begins his synthesis of the soul and body through sexuality byestablishing a relative equality between the two He pronounces in previousstanzas You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself andNot an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile and none shall be lessfamiliar than the rest Here he lays foundation for the basicegalitarianism with which he treats all aspects of his being for the rest ofthe poem This equality includes not only his sexuality but in broaderterms his soul and body In the opening to section five Whitmanexplicitly articulates that equality in the context of the body and soul Ibelieve in you my soul the other I am must not abase itself to you And youmust not be abased to the other He refutes the moral superiority of thesoul over the flesh historically prevalent throughout Western
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