Sing Body Electric Essay

Sing Body Electric Essay-71
But in this movie of music and drama, there is one scene that made me fly: The graduation performance at the end of the movie.The song they sing, “I sing the body electric” always sends my heart soaring, my soul expanding, my eyes tear.This is most evident in the fifth and sixth sections of the poem, where he examines first the female and then the male body, praising both for their “sacred” status.

But in this movie of music and drama, there is one scene that made me fly: The graduation performance at the end of the movie.The song they sing, “I sing the body electric” always sends my heart soaring, my soul expanding, my eyes tear.This is most evident in the fifth and sixth sections of the poem, where he examines first the female and then the male body, praising both for their “sacred” status.

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The poem is not concerned with the intellectual question “What is beauty?

” but observes beauty at the physical and sensual level—one recalls John Keats’s description of a life of sensation rather than thought.

Both the male and the female slave are touted as the parents of multitudes.

This makes them attractive as property: they can become essentially breeding stock for their masters.

Just as various organs and features come together in the greater structure of the human body, so too do the various bits and pieces of Whitman’s poetry come together in a greater whole.

Whitman prizes the body most for its generative qualities.This kind of extreme valuation of the body would seem to be the extreme case of the kind of body-centrism Whitman advocates. For Whitman, the body has primacy in its ability to generate experience, which can be compared metaphorically to the generation of children.The body can connect both erotically and spiritually with the bodies of others.In all this, the role of the body as the conduit between the soul and the world remains crucial.The slave auctions show a kind of debased, misguided worship of the physical.The final stanza of the poem gives a catalogue of body parts, both the poet’s and others’.The parts listed have functions, of course, but they also provide the raw materials for poetry: “these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul.” The body becomes sacred through its linkage with the soul; while it is only the soul’s helper or accomplice, it nevertheless does not deserve second-rate status, for it enables not only spirituality but also poetry.Women are of course generative in the same literal sense in this poem.The eighth stanza opens with the image of “[a] woman’s body at auction”: obviously a slave auction.The farmer is seen through the eyes of his children, who “love him.” While the love of the children is not presented erotically, it shades into the erotic gaze of the poet, who longs to “sit by him...that [I] and he might touch each other.” The ability of this simple man to build a sort of family dynasty seems to be what attracts the poet.

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