Whitman and Mysticism
What is mysticism: Mysticism is not a coherent philosophy of existence, but more a mood of thoughts. A mystical knowledge, according to BERTRAND RUSSEL, includes insight, a sense of unity and the unreality of time and place, and a belief that evil is mere appearance. A mystic’s vision is intuitive he feels the existence of a divine fact behind and inside the normal planet of feeling notion. He feels that God and the Supreme Soul animating all things are identical. He sees an crucial identity of getting among Guy, Character and God. He thinks that “all issues in the seen planet are but types and manifestations of the one particular Divine Life, and that these phenomena are modifying and short term, whilst the soul that informs them is eternal”. The human soul, as well, is everlasting. Transcendentalism is intently linked to mysticism, for it emphasizes the unintuitive and non secular previously mentioned the empirical.
Whitman’s poetry is entire of mystic and transcendental strains: He was deeply motivated by Emerson, the American transcendentalist. His considered was intuitive and not systematic like a logician’s. He wrote like a mystic:
Wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible to proof, is its own proof.
Applies to all levels and objects and qualities, and is material,
Is the certainty of the fact and immorality of items and the excellence of things.
Anything there is in the float of the sight of items that provokes it out of the Soul.
Whitman believed the soul to be immortal. He felt identification with all animate and inanimate factors close to him. What is fascinating about Whitman’s mysticism is that, as Schyberg observes, “in his guide we can locate the normal traits of absolutely all the various mystic doctrines”.
Whitman is a mystic with a distinction: A single are not able to get in touch with him a pure mystic in the feeling 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 ability of a human currently being to create conversation between his spirit and the Divine Spirit. But christian mysticism differs from the oriental or standard mystics in that he does not subscribe to their belief that interaction with the Divine Spirit is possible only through denial of the senses and mortification of the flesh. Whitman declares that he sings of the human body as much as of the soul. He feels that religious interaction is attainable, in fact appealing, without sacrificing the flesh. Therefore there is a wonderful deal of the sexual factor in Whitman’ s poetry, particularly in the early poetry-Part 5 of Track of Myself is a case in point the place the sexual connotations are inseparable from the mystical expertise.
The Content Entire world is not denigrated: Whitman does not reject the content globe. He seeks the non secular through the content. He does not subscribe to the belief that objects are illusive. There is no inclination on the component of the soul to depart this globe for excellent. In Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, we see the soul making an attempt to perform a substantial part in the administration of this world of scenes, sights, seems, and many others. Whitman does not belittle the achievements of science and materialism. In Segment 23 of Track of Myself, he accepts the fact of materialism and says:
Human for optimistic science!
Lengthy dwell precise demonstration!
Character and male shall be disjoined and diffused no a lot more.
Searching for the divine actuality: Whitman accepted the Principle of Evolution but could not think evolution to be a mechanical method. In the sluggish procedure of growth, improvement and alter that science was revealing, Whitman observed God creating Himself apparent and unmistakable to man. The soul of gentleman finds total dissatisfaction only in in search of out the actuality driving the manifestations. As he says in Passage to India:
Bathe me O God in thee, mounting thee,
I and my soul to selection in assortment of thee.
At the stop of the journey the soul satisfies with God-or the “Great Camerado” as he says in Song of Myself.
Whitman’s sense of unity of the complete: His cosmic consciousness.: Whitman has all through his poetry proven his religion in the unity of the complete, or “oneness” of all. This feeling of the essential divinity of all designed items is an crucial aspect of mysticism and is also closely relevant to Whitman’s faith in democracy calling for equality and fraternity. Song of Myself is replete with lines proclaiming this “oneness”. He knows
… that all guys at any time born are also my brothers… and all the women my sisters and enthusiasts,
And that a keelson of the creation is love.
He praises, not basically life, but the absolute wroth of every single certain and individual individual, every actual present currently being. Whitman equates all opposites, and accepts evil as significantly as part of Truth.
In Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, the poet has achieved the unity of all mankind: “The straightforward, compact, properly-joined plan myself disinterested yet element of the plan”. Time becomes one particular in Whitman’s poetry. Previous, existing and future are merged into a religious continuum. Thus in Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, he says:
It avails not, time nor spot-distance avails not,
I am with you, you guys and females of a generation,
Or ever so several generations that’s why.
Mysticism governing the images and symbolism of Whitman’s poetry: The mystic quest for Reality and communion with the Divine very easily lends by itself to be represented in terms of the voyage impression. The Music of the open Street is a poem whose theme is a journey symbolic of an exploration of the non secular as effectively as the bodily universe. Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking symbolizes the mystic quest for fact and the greatest discovery of the which means of lifestyle. When Lilacs previous in the dooryard Bloom’d use symbols and images developed to affirm the significance of Demise. Death is noticed as a deliveress due to the fact it qualified prospects to new daily life, and the poet getting experienced the mystical knowledge of this truth, seeks to be a “uniter of right here and hereafter”
As G. W. Allen points out, the “endeavor to show the path among fact and the soul really virtually sums up Whitman’s complete 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 globe soul. The mass of photographs which race through his poems symbolize the unity and harmony in himself and all creation. The spear of grass assumes mystical importance through its symbolic worth-celebration of individuality and the enmasse, exclusion of none, exception of all. In Music of Myself, Whitman speaks of God as his beloved and his “mattress-fellow” sleeping at his facet all night. The mystical experience is conveyed in terms of hugely billed sexual imagery.
Whitman seldom missing touch with the physical actuality even in the midst of mystical knowledge. Physical phenomena for him have been symbols of non secular truth. He thought that “the unseen is proved by seen” thus he helps make use of extremely sensuous and concrete imagery to express his notion of divine truth. He finds a function driving normal objects-grass, sea chicken, flowers, animals-for,
The smallest sprout demonstrates there is genuinely no dying…
… al leaf of grass is no much less than the journey-function of the stars…
Indeed, 1 may possibly say that mysticism constitutes the quite poetic kind of Whitman’s poems, he seemed on the universe as constituting a unity of disparate objects, unified the Divine Spirit therefore his poems are “Leaves of Grass” signifying at when separateness and unity. Whitman’s dominant metaphor of grass presents a situation for unity and harmony, a simple part of framework.
Mystical construction of Music of Myself: Track of Myself is probably the greatest illustration of Whitman’s mysticism influencing meaning, type and symbolism. Suggests James E. Miller: “When considered in conditions of the phases of the traditional mystical expertise, Tune of Myself requires on a comprehensive structural condition”.
The reader can rediscover what the poet by observing his possess spear of summer season grass and by launching his own mystical journey. Track of Myself is an “inverted mystical experience”¬- Whilst 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 development in direction of union with the Absolute.
Conclusion: Whitman is a mystic as a lot as he is a poet of democracy and science, but a “mystic with no a creed”. He sees the human body as the manifestation of the spirit which is “shipped” by dying into a larger daily life. A spear of grass is not an inert substance for him but God’s handkerchief, “the flag of disposition”. Usually in his sensibility, issue is dissolved, trees grow to be “liquid” and contours “fluid”. The true is transmuted and he has cosmic visions. He becomes a comet travelling spherical the universe with the velocity 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 referred to as a “Bible” of The us, it has a great deal to do with its mystical strain. Real, Whitman’s manufacturer of mysticism is not identifiable with the selflessness of the Christian variety or the passivity of the Oriental. What we may phone Whitman’s mysticism is “democratic” mysticism-offered to each gentleman on equivalent terms and embracing contradictory elements. But it is simple that mysticism is central to the which means of Leaves of Grass.
Whitman and Mysticism