Whitman and Mysticism
What is mysticism: Mysticism is not a coherent philosophy of lifestyle, but much more a mood of thoughts. A mystical knowledge, in accordance to BERTRAND RUSSEL, entails perception, a sense of unity and the unreality of time and area, and a perception that evil is mere visual appeal. A mystic’s eyesight is intuitive he feels the presence of a divine fact powering and inside of the regular planet of feeling notion. He feels that God and the Supreme Soul animating all factors are equivalent. He sees an vital identity of becoming among Man, Character and God. He thinks that “all issues in the noticeable globe are but forms and manifestations of the a single Divine Life, and that these phenomena are shifting and momentary, although the soul that informs them is everlasting”. The human soul, also, is everlasting. Transcendentalism is intently connected to mysticism, for it emphasizes the unintuitive and religious over the empirical.
Whitman’s poetry is complete of mystic and transcendental strains: He was deeply affected by Emerson, the American transcendentalist. His believed was intuitive and not systematic like a logician’s. He wrote like a mystic:
Wisdom is of the soul, is not vulnerable to proof, is its personal proof.
Applies to all levels and objects and qualities, and is content,
Is the certainty of the reality and immorality of items and the excellence of issues.
Some thing there is in the float of the sight of items that provokes it out of the Soul.
Whitman thought the soul to be immortal. He felt identification with all animate and inanimate issues all around him. What is exciting about Whitman’s mysticism is that, as Schyberg observes, “in his ebook we can locate the common qualities of totally all the a variety of mystic doctrines”.
Whitman is a mystic with a big difference: One particular can not get in touch with him a pure mystic in the perception of oriental mysticism. He is not a praying guy. Like all mystics he believed in the existence of the soul, and in the existence of the Divine Spirit, in the immortality of the human soul, and in the capacity of a human being to build conversation in between his spirit and the Divine Spirit. But he differs from the oriental or conventional mystics in that he does not subscribe to their belief that interaction with the Divine Spirit is feasible only by means of denial of the senses and mortification of the flesh. Whitman declares that he sings of the entire body as a lot as of the soul. He feels that non secular communication is attainable, in fact fascinating, without sacrificing the flesh. Therefore there is a fantastic deal of the sexual element in Whitman’ s poetry, specifically in the early poetry-Part 5 of Track of Myself is a circumstance in position exactly where the sexual connotations are inseparable from the mystical knowledge.
The Content Planet is not denigrated: Whitman does not reject the substance world. He seeks the spiritual by way of the content. He does not subscribe to the belief that objects are illusive. There is no tendency on the element of the soul to depart this entire world for very good. In Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, we see the soul attempting to engage in a considerable position in the administration of this entire world of scenes, sights, appears, etc. Whitman does not belittle the achievements of science and materialism. In Section 23 of Track of Myself, he accepts the truth of materialism and suggests:
Human for positive science!
Lengthy live exact demonstration!
Mother nature and male shall be disjoined and subtle no far more.
Looking for the divine fact: Whitman recognized the Theory of Evolution but could not feel evolution to be a mechanical approach. In the sluggish process of growth, growth and modify that science was revealing, Whitman noticed God generating Himself evident and unmistakable to gentleman. The soul of gentleman finds full dissatisfaction only in searching for out the actuality 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 selection of thee.
At the end of the journey the soul satisfies with God-or the “Wonderful Camerado” as he claims in Track of Myself.
Whitman’s perception of unity of the total: His cosmic consciousness.: Whitman has through his poetry proven his religion in the unity of the complete, or “oneness” of all. This perception of the crucial divinity of all produced factors is an essential element of mysticism and is also closely associated to Whitman’s religion in democracy contacting for equality and fraternity. Music of Myself is replete with lines proclaiming this “oneness”. He is aware of
… that all guys ever born are also my brothers… and all the women my sisters and enthusiasts,
And that a keelson of the development is love.
He praises, not just lifestyle, but the complete wroth of every single certain and individual individual, every single actual present currently being. Whitman equates all opposites, and accepts evil as a lot as portion of Fact.
In Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, the poet has accomplished the unity of all mankind: “The simple, compact, well-joined scheme myself disinterested yet part of the scheme”. Time gets one particular in Whitman’s poetry. Earlier, existing and future are merged into a religious continuum. Thus in Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, he says:
It avails not, time nor location-length avails not,
I am with you, you gentlemen and ladies of a technology,
Or at any time so numerous generations hence.
Mysticism governing the images and symbolism of Whitman’s poetry: The mystic quest for Truth and communion with the Divine simply lends itself to be represented in terms of the voyage image. The Tune of the open Road is a poem whose topic is a journey symbolic of an exploration of the non secular as properly as the physical universe. Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking symbolizes the mystic quest for reality and the greatest discovery of the which means of life. When Lilacs last in the dooryard Bloom’d use symbols and photographs designed to affirm the relevance of Dying. Loss of life is noticed as a deliveress since it qualified prospects to new daily life, and the poet obtaining experienced the mystical expertise of this fact, seeks to be a “uniter of listed here and hereafter”
As G. W. Allen points out, the “try to reveal the path between truth and the soul quite almost sums up Whitman’s total intention in Leaves of Grass”. The mysticism right here is apparent. 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 images which race via his poems symbolize the unity and harmony in himself and all generation. christian mysticism of grass assumes mystical importance via its symbolic value-celebration of individuality and the enmasse, exclusion of none, exception of all. In Song of Myself, Whitman speaks of God as his beloved and his “bed-fellow” sleeping at his aspect all evening. The mystical knowledge is conveyed in terms of extremely charged sexual imagery.
Whitman seldom lost contact with the physical reality even in the midst of mystical experience. Physical phenomena for him have been symbols of religious reality. He considered that “the unseen is proved by noticed” therefore he tends to make use of highly sensuous and concrete imagery to convey his notion of divine truth. He finds a goal behind normal objects-grass, sea fowl, flowers, animals-for,
The smallest sprout exhibits there is genuinely no demise…
… al leaf of grass is no considerably less than the journey-function of the stars…
Certainly, one particular may possibly say that mysticism constitutes the quite poetic form of Whitman’s poems, he appeared on the universe as constituting a unity of disparate objects, unified the Divine Spirit hence his poems are “Leaves of Grass” signifying at after separateness and unity. Whitman’s dominant metaphor of grass presents a case for unity and harmony, a basic component of structure.
Mystical structure of Song of Myself: Track of Myself is possibly the very best illustration of Whitman’s mysticism influencing indicating, type and symbolism. States James E. Miller: “When viewed in phrases of the phases of the traditional mystical encounter, Tune of Myself takes on a thorough structural form”.
The reader can rediscover what the poet by observing his own spear of summer season grass and by launching his possess mystical journey. Tune of Myself is an “inverted mystical knowledge”¬- While the standard mystic tried to annihilate himself and mortify his senses in preparation for his union with the divine, Whitman magnifies the self and glorifies the senses in his development toward union with the Absolute.
Summary: Whitman is a mystic as much as he is a poet of democracy and science, but a “mystic without a creed”. He sees the body as the manifestation of the spirit which is “shipped” by loss of life into a increased daily life. A spear of grass is not an inert material for him but God’s handkerchief, “the flag of disposition”. Frequently in his sensibility, issue is dissolved, trees become “liquid” and contours “fluid”. The real is transmuted and he has cosmic visions. He gets a comet travelling spherical the universe with the speed of light.
I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runway sunshine,
I effuse my flesh in eddies,
And drift in lacy jags.
If Leaves of Grass has been referred to as a “Bible” of America, it has a fantastic offer to do with its mystical pressure. Correct, Whitman’s brand of mysticism is not identifiable with the selflessness of the Christian selection or the passivity of the Oriental. What we may call Whitman’s mysticism is “democratic” mysticism-available to every single gentleman on equal terms and embracing contradictory factors. But it is plain that mysticism is central to the which means of Leaves of Grass.
Whitman and Mysticism