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Poetry Project

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by

Caroline Balch

on 1 November 2012

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Transcript of Poetry Project

Self-Contained by Walt Whitman Caroline Balch
1st Period Self-Contained I think I could turn and live with the animals,
They are so placid and self-contained.
I stand and look at them, and long, and long. Summary I think I could turn and live with the animals,
They are so placid and self-contained.
I stand and look at them, and long, and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their own condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick in discussing their duty to God;
Not one is dissatisfied not one is demented with the mania of owning things;
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago.
Not one is respectable and unhappy over the whole earth. This section is pretty self explanatory and simply states that the speaker longs to live with the animals because they are calm and can take care of themselves. The literary device used here is repetition which emphasizes how much he wishes to live where he can be content and self-sufficient. They do not sweat and whine about their own condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick in discussing their duty to God; Animals do not complain or worry about their sins or their duty to God. Overall, animals generally do not bother themselves or others with problems other than those that are necessary. Once again repetition is used and emphasizes what the speaker wants and it also contrasts animals and humans. Not one is dissatisfied not one is demented with the mania of owning things;
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago.
Not one is respectable and unhappy over the whole earth. Animals, unlike humans, are satisfied with their lives without having to own useless materials items. They also do not show respect to one another and, although they are not respectable,they are happy everywhere. "Not one" is repeated at the beginning of the line which, again, shows emphasis of the speaker's current unhappiness with humans. Analysis The poem "Self-Contained" by Walt Whitman demonstrates the speaker's attitude with living among humans. He clearly finds discontentment among their complaining and worrying and wishes to live without it. The speaker says that he would like to live with the animals because they are not consumed with wealth, they do not worry about people who lived long ago, etc. The literary device most commonly seen in the poem is a repetition of the beginning of the lines: "They do not" and "Not one." This repetition emphasizes the discontentment he finds in humans by making it appear that he has lists of characteristics that bothers him. In Walt Whitman's poem "Self-Contained" the speaker expresses his unhappiness with the humans he has come in contact with. A solution to this problem, the speaker sees, is to live among animals because many of the characteristics of people that bother him are nonexistent in an animal's life. Whitman uses literary devices such as repetition and tone to communicate the faults he sees in the humanity of people. Analysis Cont. Throughout the poem Whitman uses repetition. It appears both internally in the lines and as an introduction. The first example of repetition is in the third line. After introducing the speaker's wish of living among the animals he repeats the word long, "I stand and look at them, and long, and long." This repetition emphasizes his longing to live among the animals and also seems to hint at the inability of attaining such a life. He "longs and longs" for it, but it may not come. Other examples of the repetition in the poem are the repetition of the phrases, "They do not" and "Not one." This repetition appears at the beginning of several lines and precedes a sort of list of the faults of humans that animals do not have. This emphasizes discontentment because it makes the list seem long with all he finds wrong with humans. The faults listed include weeping for their sins and discussing their duty to God. The emphasis of the unfavorable characteristics of humans that do not seem altogether unfavorable shows the faults he sees in the humanity of people. Analysis Cont. Along with the repetition in the poem, the tone of unhappiness communicates the speaker's discontentment with people's actions. Words such as demented, dissatisfied sick, whine, and weep all accompany common characteristics of humans such as sinning or wanting material items. The unhappiness developed by these words show that the speaker can not stand the simple faults of humanity present in everyone. He even says that it makes him sick to hear people talk about their duty to God which many should embrace. Analysis Cont. Through the poem's repetition and tone the faults the speaker finds in humanity are revealed. He puts the ways of the animals above the humanity of humans.
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