I Hear It Was Charged Against Me: Summary & Analysis

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I hear it was charged against me that I sought to destroy institutions,
But really I am neither for nor against institutions,
(What indeed have I in common with them? or what with the destruction of them?)
Only I will establish in the Mannahatta and in every city of these States inland and seaboard,
And in the fields and woods, and above every keel little or large that dents the water,
Without edifices or rules or trustees or any argument,
The institution of the dear love of comrades.


      Introduction. I Hear It Was Charged Against Me, is a brief lyric appeared as part of, Calamus section in the ‘Leaves of Grass’. It is a proclamation announcing that he has nothing against age old institutions. He does not like to be accused of mining ancient customs and practices.

      Summary. In the poem I Hear It Was Charged Against Me, poet wants the feeling of comradeship, of oneness to pervade the world. He hopes for the better nation where all are equal.

Without edifices or rules or trustees or any argument,
The institution of the dear love of Comrades.

      These lines which form the gist of the short lyric ‘I fear it was Charged against Me’ extoll the open-minded idea of the poet. The people considered the poet a homo-sexual. They charged that he was against age-old institutions of wedding and family. The poet advocates his feelings, that he is not against age old practices and formalities. He wants the feeling of comradeship to spread everywhere in the world. It has no boundaries. It has no set rules, nor edifices nor trustees. It is inherent in every individual. It should ignite from fellow to fellow irrespective of caste, color or religion or sex. The poem is, popular, because of this fact that it upholds universal comradeship.


      The poet takes a non-aligned view, that he is neither for, nor against age old set precedents. People considered him a homosexual and thought he was against weddings and families. The poet refutes this charge. He extols the spirit of fellow-feeling, comradeship amongst human beings irrespective of their caste, color, religion or sex.

      His diplomatic manner of convincing his ideas enthralls the readers. He says he has nothing in common with the institutions. He would not gain anything if the institutions were destroyed. His vocation is one of construction and not the opposite.

      His constructive purpose is obvious in the last line of the poem, when he says he would establish ‘The institution of the dear love of comrades’, the fellow-feeling, the understanding, the adjustment, the affection, the cooperation which go to make it, all over the world. There are no trustees, nor rules nor edifices to house this fellow-feeling. He likes to establish this comradeship starting from Manhattan, in all the cities, villages, fields, seas and to the entire world. He is frank in his ideas, which makes the reader attach to the poet’s own lines while concluding:

“How beautiful is candor: all faults may be forgiven of him who has perfect candor.”

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