Song of Myself: Section 48 - Summary & Analysis

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I have said that the soul is not more than the body,
And I have said that the body is not more than the soul,
And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one’s self is,
And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral drest in his shroud,
And I or you pocketless of a dime may purchase the pick of the earth,
And to glance with an eye or show a bean in its pod confounds the learning of all times,
And there is no trade or employment but the young man following it may become a hero,
And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheel’d universe,
And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.
And I say to mankind, Be not curious about God,
For I who am curious about each am not curious about God,
(No array of terms can say how much I am at peace about God and about death.)
I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.
Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass,
I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign’d by God’s name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe’er I go,
Others will punctually come for ever and ever.


I have said, that the soul is not more than the body.
And, I have said that the body is not more than the soul.

      The opening lines highlight on the importance of the equality of the body and the soul. The poet sees the body and the soul at par. Without soul, body is nothing and without body, soul does not have any existence.


      This particular section depicts the ubiquity of God. The section commences with the poet’s acceptance that the body and the soul are equally important. He sees them on par. He declares that even God cannot be greater than one’s self. He clearly states that a human being must have sympathy and fellow-feeling on his journey in this Earth. If he is bereft of this then he is merely “drest in his shroud”. He explains that a person must have sense of appreciation of everything in this world. It may be just “a bean in its pod”, or the greatest things in life. The human kind must be composed to welcome everything in this Universe.

      He does not want mankind to cross-examine the mystery of the Omnipresent. He gives his own example. He feels the presence of God in everything, in every tiny object, in the world. He wants the readers to accept the fact that even time contains God. God is ever present to those who understand Him. He is present in every being. The word ‘God’ permeates the entire atmosphere, Earth and the Universe. When this factor is understood the poet feels it unnecessary to question the whereabouts of God. The poet suggests that mankind with sympathy, compassion, and understanding of God can lead a placid, happy, contented life. The world runs on the wheels of sympathy. If people have understood this, they can equally face Death in a calm manner. The idea of God being manifest in the Universe, comes near to our Hindu philosophy, where we call God ‘Sarvantharayami’. A touch of Hindu philosophy is inherent in Whitman’s poetry.

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