Friday, March 1, 2013

Whitman: Through me forbidden voices (4 days to DR. BIRD)

This passage contains lines that always get my students to giggle or act uncomfortable, but it's an essential concept in Whitman's writing. Basically, he sees nothing distasteful or vulgar in the human body, and what better way to express this than to suggest he treats both his face and his bowels with respect (the interpretation here is either that he eats well or that he is physically gentle and respectful to his body -- either way, it leads to his claim that his arm pits smell divine!).

"Through me forbidden voices,
Voices of sexes and lusts, voices veil'd and I remove the veil,
Voices indecent by me clarified and transfigur'd.

I do not press my fingers across my mouth,
I keep as delicate around the bowels as around the head and heart,
Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.

I believe in the flesh and appetites,
Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag of me is a miracle.

Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touch'd from,
The scent of these arm-pits aroma finer than prayer,
This head more than churches, bibles, and all the creeds."

"If I worship one thing more than another it shall be the spread of my own body, or any part of it"