Chanting The Square Deific: Poem - Summary & Analysis

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      Introduction. A strange blending and somewhat misleading fusion of sensualistic outbursts and spiritualistic fervor runs through some of the important poems of Walt Whitman till about the year 1865. Thereafter the poet appears to discard the sensualistic aspect and to allow a mystic spiritualism to pervade his poems. The poem, Chanting The Square Deific, is about forty-five lines divided into four sections, the poet unfolds the underlying principles of pragmatic mysticism enveloping entities of primordial law, conciliatory love, disgruntled revolt and a unifying spiritual element passing through all these. The poem urges the reader by implication to gain a permanent insight into the order of the universe leading him to an undying faith in the fact that death in the usual sense gets merged into a mystic birth into the life of the real identities along with the realization of spiritual reality and mundane illusion.

      Summary. The title Chanting The Square Deific, implies that four deities constitute a mystic square and that the poet wants to chant its glory. Published in 1865-66 the poem reveals the poet as a full-fledged mystic surveying the religious experience extending over a long period in the history of the world of sublime thoughts in the realm of mysterious truths.

      In the first section, the poet identifies himself with Jehovah, the deities Brahm and Saturnius, who are reputed to be relentless in the execution of their righteous judgments. These deities are eternal and they represent the primordial law. Like the law of gravitation and the cycle of seasons (symbolic of merciless precision) these deities met out justice without tempering it with mercy.

      In the second section, the personified conciliatory love is deified. It is Lord Christ, the cheer-bringing lord of affection, despite the fact that

Many times have I been rejected, taunted, put in prison and crucified and many times shall be again.

      In the third section, the deity glorified is the comrade of criminals who plots revolt “crafty, despised, a drudge, ignorant,

With sudraface and worn brow, black but in the depths of my heart proud as any

      Lifted now and always against whoever scorning assumes to rule me Morose, full of guile, full of reminiscences, brooding, with many wiles. He is irresponsible and permanently changeless. In the fourth section the spirit deified is

Santa Spirita, breather, life
Beyond the light, lighter than light,
Beyond the flame of hell, Joyous leaping easily above hell,
Beyond Paradise, perfumed solely with mine own perfume.
Including all life on Earth, touching, including God, including
Saviour and Satan...

      He is the general soul, the life or the great round world of the sun and stars and of man.

      Critical Analysis. In this poem the poet has given the significant definition of the spiritual primordial law. Then the loving God glorified by the prophets and poets by means of rapt prophecies and poems is described.

The poet paints the gruesome picture of Satan:
Defiant I, Satan, still live, still utter words in new lands duly appearing

      Ultimately the Santa Spirita is glorified as the all-prevading and unifying element. The spirit has been raised to a position of the greatest eminence. The concluding lines are superb:

Here the square finishing, the solid, I the most solid
Breathe my breath also through these songs.

      Thus the poet has a rapid survey of all the deities (through their representatives) through the identification of whom the mystic experience reaches its ultimate sublime character.

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