Gods: Poem by Walt Whitman - Summary & Analysis

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Lover divine and perfect Comrade,
Waiting content, invisible yet, but certain,
Be thou my God.
Thou, thou, the Ideal Man,
Fair, able, beautiful, content, and loving,
Complete in body and dilate in spirit,
Be thou my God.
O Death, (for Life has served its turn,)
Opener and usher to the heavenly mansion,
Be thou my God.
Aught, aught of mightiest, best I see, conceive, or know,
(To break the stagnant tie-thee, thee to free, O soul,)
Be thou my God.
All great ideas, the races’ aspirations,
All heroisms, deeds of rapt enthusiasts,
Be ye my Gods.
Or Time and Space,
Or shape of Earth divine and wondrous,
Or some fair shape I viewing, worship,
Or lustrous orb of sun or star by night,
Be ye my Gods.


      Summary. Gods is a small poem of twenty-one very short lines wherein the poet gives out a list as it were of certain entities possessing divine characteristics. After the visit of Swami Vivekananda to Chicago and other places many intellectuals of America took to the serious study of Bhagavad Gita and other sacred books of India. Walt Whitman was one of them and this poem is evidently inspired by the tenth chapter of the Gita where Lord Krishna gives the instances of a number of things having the divine Vibhuti or glory and grandeur.

      What an orthodox Christian conforming to the conventional ideas and beliefs will not venture to say has been narrated here by Walt Whitman. He calls upon the perfect comrade and divine lover to be his God. Then he mentions about an Ideal Man, who is fair, beautiful, content and loving, complete in body and dilate in spirit to be his God. Thereafter he speaks of Death as his God, because death opens the door of the heavenly mansion. Lines 11 to 16 echo what is mentioned in the holy Gita. Walt Whitman says that anything that is powerful, the best that he can conceive or know should be his God in order to break the stagnant tie and free the soul. Then he says that all great ideas, the races’ aspirations, all heroic deeds of rapt enthusiasts should be his Gods. Finally, he wants Time, Space, Sun, Star, etc. to be his gods.

      Critical Analysis. Throughout the ages man has conceived of God as an omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient Being. The idea is that the noblest and the best must deserve our veneration. When we love and reward one who excels others in ordinary society how much more should we love, venerate and worship the best of all! Our poet does not want a personal God as in our myths and legends. Whatever things that may ennoble, elevate, uplift, stir up and illuminate life and environment must be venerated as divine in nature.

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