Beginning My Studies: Poem - Summary & Analysis

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Beginning my studies the first step pleas’d me so much,
The mere fact consciousness, these forms, the power of motion,
The least insect or animal, the senses, eyesight, love,
The first step I say awed me and pleas’d me so much,
I have hardly gone and hardly wish ‘d to go any farther,
But stop and loiter all the time to sing it in ecstatic songs.


      Summary. Beginning My Studies is very short poem pregnant with meaning. It contains the philosophy of life of Walt Whitman in a nutshell as it were. An impassioned contact and communion with the Material is highly desirable for a proper comprehension of the Spiritual. This view is held by Whitman as evidenced by his poems and the same is adopted by the imagists among the modern poets.

      Sense of awareness of external objects and shapes, the power of motion, the smallest of insects or animal, the eyes and other sense organs-these are the things that we come across in our life at the very outset, since infancy. The poet calls them “The first steps”. They awed him as well as pleased him. He did not wish to go further. He began to sing about them in his songs.

      Critical Analysis. The tremendous effect and impact of the various sense objects on the poet was to prevent him from thinking beyond them. He began to compose poems on these elementary things instead of seeking themes from elsewhere. Abstract notions and out-of-the-way themes will not enhance the value of poetry. There is no dearth of material for the discerning poet. Only he has to make full use of the concrete, visible objects of everyday life that delight us and inspire awe and respect as well. A genuine poet becomes rapturous and thrilled as a result of his contact and communion with the universe. There is no wonder if he celebrates in his poetry everything in the universe that falls into his view.

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