Whitman and Mysticism
What is mysticism: Mysticism is not a coherent philosophy of daily life, but more a mood of mind. A mystical knowledge, according to BERTRAND RUSSEL, involves insight, a sense of unity and the unreality of time and area, and a belief that evil is mere appearance. A mystic’s vision is intuitive he feels the presence of a divine actuality behind and inside of the ordinary world of sense perception. He feels that God and the Supreme Soul animating all factors are similar. He sees an important id of getting between Male, Nature and God. He believes that “all issues in the seen planet are but types and manifestations of the a single Divine Lifestyle, and that these phenomena are modifying and momentary, whilst the soul that informs them is eternal”. The human soul, as well, is everlasting. Transcendentalism is carefully related to mysticism, for it emphasizes the unintuitive and non secular above the empirical.
Whitman’s poetry is total of mystic and transcendental strains: He was deeply motivated by Emerson, the American transcendentalist. His imagined was intuitive and not systematic like a logician’s. He wrote like a mystic:
Wisdom is of the soul, is not inclined to proof, is its personal evidence.
Applies to all levels and objects and traits, and is articles,
Is the certainty of the truth and immorality of things and the excellence of factors.
Anything there is in the float of the sight of issues that provokes it out of the Soul.
Whitman believed the soul to be immortal. He felt identification with all animate and inanimate factors around him. What is interesting about Whitman’s mysticism is that, as Schyberg observes, “in his e-book we can uncover the standard traits of totally all the numerous mystic doctrines”.
Whitman is a mystic with a difference: 1 cannot get in touch with him a pure mystic in the perception of oriental mysticism. He is not a praying man. Like all mystics he thought in the existence of the soul, and in the existence of the Divine Spirit, in the immortality of the human soul, and in the capability of a human currently being to set up conversation amongst his spirit and the Divine Spirit. But he differs from the oriental or classic mystics in that he does not subscribe to their perception that communication with the Divine Spirit is attainable only by way of denial of the senses and mortification of the flesh. Whitman declares that he sings of the physique as a lot as of the soul. He feels that non secular interaction is feasible, certainly desirable, with no sacrificing the flesh. Therefore there is a wonderful deal of the sexual factor in Whitman’ s poetry, especially in the early poetry-Area five of Tune of Myself is a circumstance in point where the sexual connotations are inseparable from the mystical knowledge.
The Substance World is not denigrated: Whitman does not reject the material planet. He seeks the spiritual via the substance. He does not subscribe to the perception that objects are illusive. There is no inclination on the component of the soul to depart this world for excellent. In Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, we see the soul striving to play a substantial role in the administration of this entire world of scenes, sights, appears, and so forth. Whitman does not belittle the achievements of science and materialism. In Segment 23 of Song of Myself, he accepts the reality of materialism and suggests:
Human for good science!
Prolonged stay exact demonstration!
Nature and gentleman shall be disjoined and diffused no far more.
In search of the divine fact: Whitman acknowledged the Idea of Evolution but could not imagine evolution to be a mechanical procedure. In christian mysticism of expansion, improvement and change that science was revealing, Whitman noticed God producing Himself obvious and unmistakable to gentleman. The soul of man finds full dissatisfaction only in looking for out the fact guiding the manifestations. As he suggests in Passage to India:
Bathe me O God in thee, mounting thee,
I and my soul to assortment in variety of thee.
At the conclude of the journey the soul meets with God-or the “Wonderful Camerado” as he says in Track of Myself.
Whitman’s sense of unity of the whole: His cosmic consciousness.: Whitman has throughout his poetry demonstrated his religion in the unity of the complete, or “oneness” of all. This feeling of the vital divinity of all designed factors is an important element of mysticism and is also carefully relevant to Whitman’s faith in democracy contacting for equality and fraternity. Music of Myself is replete with traces proclaiming this “oneness”. He knows
… that all males at any time born are also my brothers… and all the women my sisters and fans,
And that a keelson of the development is really like.
He praises, not merely lifestyle, but the absolute wroth of every single certain and specific person, every real present being. Whitman equates all opposites, and accepts evil as considerably as component of Fact.
In Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, the poet has accomplished the unity of all mankind: “The straightforward, compact, effectively-joined plan myself disinterested but component of the scheme”. Time turns into one particular in Whitman’s poetry. Earlier, existing and potential are merged into a religious continuum. Thus in Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, he claims:
It avails not, time nor location-distance avails not,
I am with you, you males and females of a technology,
Or at any time so several generations hence.
Mysticism governing the images and symbolism of Whitman’s poetry: The mystic quest for Fact and communion with the Divine easily lends by itself to be represented in conditions of the voyage image. The Music of the open Street is a poem whose theme is a journey symbolic of an exploration of the non secular as nicely as the physical universe. Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking symbolizes the mystic quest for actuality and the ultimate discovery of the that means of lifestyle. When Lilacs previous in the dooryard Bloom’d use symbols and photographs made to affirm the relevance of Dying. Loss of life is witnessed as a deliveress simply because it qualified prospects to new existence, and the poet getting had the mystical encounter of this reality, seeks to be a “uniter of right here and hereafter”
As G. W. Allen points out, the “try to indicate the route in between truth and the soul extremely almost sums up Whitman’s whole intention in Leaves of Grass”. The mysticism below is obvious. The cosmic “I” of Whitman’s poems is on a perpetual journey. His soul is but a fragment of the entire world soul. The mass of photos which race through his poems symbolize the unity and harmony in himself and all creation. The spear of grass assumes mystical significance by means of its symbolic benefit-celebration of individuality and the enmasse, exclusion of none, exception of all. In Track of Myself, Whitman speaks of God as his beloved and his “mattress-fellow” sleeping at his facet all night time. The mystical expertise is conveyed in conditions of highly charged sexual imagery.
Whitman seldom dropped touch with the physical fact even in the midst of mystical encounter. Bodily phenomena for him were symbols of non secular actuality. He thought that “the unseen is proved by seen” therefore he can make use of extremely sensuous and concrete imagery to convey his notion of divine reality. He finds a goal driving normal objects-grass, sea bird, bouquets, animals-for,
The smallest sprout shows there is truly no death…
… al leaf of grass is no less than the journey-perform of the stars…
Certainly, 1 may well say that mysticism constitutes the really poetic kind of Whitman’s poems, he looked upon the universe as constituting a unity of disparate objects, unified the Divine Spirit as a result his poems are “Leaves of Grass” signifying at after separateness and unity. Whitman’s dominant metaphor of grass provides a situation for unity and harmony, a simple part of structure.
Mystical composition of Track of Myself: Track of Myself is probably the greatest illustration of Whitman’s mysticism influencing meaning, kind and symbolism. Says James E. Miller: “When seen in conditions of the phases of the conventional mystical expertise, Song of Myself normally takes on a complete structural form”.
The reader can rediscover what the poet by observing his very own spear of summer season grass and by launching his possess mystical journey. Track of Myself is an “inverted mystical encounter”¬- While the classic mystic tried to annihilate himself and mortify his senses in planning for his union with the divine, Whitman magnifies the self and glorifies the senses in his progress in the direction of union with the Absolute.
Summary: Whitman is a mystic as much as he is a poet of democracy and science, but a “mystic with out a creed”. He sees the entire body as the manifestation of the spirit which is “sent” by loss of life into a larger daily life. A spear of grass is not an inert substance for him but God’s handkerchief, “the flag of disposition”. Often in his sensibility, matter is dissolved, trees become “liquid” and contours “fluid”. The actual is transmuted and he has cosmic visions. He becomes a comet travelling spherical the universe with the pace of light.
I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runway solar,
I effuse my flesh in eddies,
And drift in lacy jags.
If Leaves of Grass has been known as a “Bible” of The us, it has a fantastic deal to do with its mystical pressure. Real, Whitman’s brand name of mysticism is not identifiable with the selflessness of the Christian assortment or the passivity of the Oriental. What we may phone Whitman’s mysticism is “democratic” mysticism-offered to every male on equivalent terms and embracing contradictory elements. But it is simple that mysticism is central to the meaning of Leaves of Grass.
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Whitman and Mysticism