Song of Myself: Section 28 - Summary & Analysis

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Is this then a touch? quivering me to a new identity,
Flames and ether making a rush for my veins,
Treacherous tip of me reaching and crowding to help them,
My flesh and blood playing out lightning to strike what is hardly different from myself,
On all sides prurient provokers stiffening my limbs,
Straining the udder of my heart for its withheld drip,
Behaving licentious toward me, taking no denial,
Depriving me of my best as for a purpose,
Unbuttoning my clothes, holding me by the bare waist,
Deluding my confusion with the calm of the sunlight and pasture-fields,
Immodestly sliding the fellow-senses away,
They bribed to swap off with touch and go and graze at the edges of me,
No consideration, no regard for my draining strength or my anger,
Fetching the rest of the herd around to enjoy them a while,
Then all uniting to stand on a headland and worry me.
The sentries desert every other part of me,
They have left me helpless to a red marauder,
They all come to the headland to witness and assist against me.
I am given up by traitors,
I talk wildly, I have lost my wits, I and nobody else am the greatest traitor,
I went myself first to the headland, my own hands carried me there.
You villain touch! what are you doing? my breath is tight in its throat,
Unclench your floodgates, you are too much for me.


Is this a touch? quivering me to a new identity,

      This is the beginning of the poem which suggests that the poet is talking about the sense stimulus. He conveys that the feeling of touch is enough to bring transformation into his whole personality. The sensual pleasure that the poet achieved through the touch has enabled him to perceive life in different colors.


      In this section, the poet confesses that the sense stimulus is not only pleasing to him blit it transforms him into a different personality. The sense of touch gushes waves of “flames and ether” into him, which give him a “new identity.” The section has sexual overtones in it. At the very touch of another person the poet feels a certain “stiffening of my limbs”. He feels that he has no control over himself. He thinks of someone:

Unbuttoning my clothes, holding me by the bare waist...
The sense of touch sends
Immodestly sliding the fellow-senses away, ....

      The description he narrates gives one the impression that he is full of ecstacy at the very sense of touch. He feels it similar to the feeling of copulation. The other senses he refers to as:

The sentries desert every other part of me....
I am given up by traitors.

      The bliss which is the result of the sense of touch when interpreted in mystic terms, delineates the poet’s ecstacy in perceiving the Divine Power and mingling with the Supreme Being. The sexual overtones in the section are given a sacred touch when he equals sexual perception to the perception of God.

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