Summary and Analysis: Song of Myself Sections 39-41, lines 976-1053


These three sections express the idea of the poet as a sort of superman, flowing through life and the world doing good. He transforms the common into the Divine. In this process, the "common modes" assume "new forms." He answers the call of the needy and the despairing and even becomes a healer to the dying: "To any one dying, thither I speed/ . . . Let the physician and the priest go home." He would seize "the descending man and raise him with resistless will . . . /By God, you shall not go down! hang your whole weight upon me."

In section 41 the poet assumes the role of the prophet of a new religion, incorporating all religions:

Taking myself the exact dimensions of Jehovah,
Lithographing Kronos, Zeus his son, and Hercules his grandson,
Buying drafts of Osiris, Isis, Belus, Brahma, Buddha,
In my portfolio placing Manito loose, Allah on a leaf, the crucifix engraved.

He declares that all men are divine and possess powers of revelation equal to any god's. The poet denies significance to old gods because God is to be found in all men. He says, "The supernatural is of no account," meaning that the Divine is here on earth for all men, who must only become ready to accept this divinity.

"The friendly and flowing savage" mentioned in section 39 is a key image which sums up the progression of ideas and feelings in this section. This image combines the idea of the primitive ancestor of man with the figure of Christ. He is a healer, a comforter, and a lover of humanity. He raises men from their deathbeds and imbues them with strength and vision. This Christ-like savage merges with the other identities contained in the total idea of the poet's self. The primitivity of savage man is divine; modern civilized man has lost this divinity but is eager to regain it.

Whitman's chants recall the experience of Indian sages and mystics (the Samadhi) who, on realizing the state of spiritual absorption, are endowed with divine and superhuman power. The poet is conscious of his newly acquired, holy and superhuman power resulting from the union of his self with the Divine.