Song of Myself: Section 49 - Summary & Analysis

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And as to you Death, and you bitter hug of mortality, it is idle to try to alarm me.
To his work without flinching the accoucheur comes,
I see the elder-hand pressing receiving supporting,
I recline by the sills of the exquisite flexible doors,
And mark the outlet, and mark the relief and escape.
And as to you Corpse I think you are good manure, but that does not offend me,
I smell the white roses sweet-scented and growing,
I reach to the leafy lips, I reach to the polish’d breasts of melons.
And as to you Life I reckon you are the leavings of many deaths,
(No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times before.)
I hear you whispering there O stars of heaven,
O suns—O grass of graves—O perpetual transfers and promotions,
If you do not say any thing how can I say any thing?
Of the turbid pool that lies in the autumn forest,
Of the moon that descends the steeps of the soughing twilight,
Toss, sparkles of day and dusk—toss on the black stems that decay in the muck,
Toss to the moaning gibberish of the dry limbs.
I ascend from the moon, I ascend from the night,
I perceive that the ghastly glimmer is noonday sunbeams reflected,
And debouch to the steady and central from the offspring great or small.


Arid as to you Death, and you bitter hug of mortality, it is idle to try to alarm me.

      The poet in these lines celebrates Death. He laughs at the people who shun at as ‘arid’ or a ‘bitter hug of mortality’. He accepts it as a better part of life. The poet feels that death can lead towards another life.


      The glorification of Death is found in this section. The poet is unafraid of Death. He accepts it as a part of life. People shun it as a “bitter hug of mortality” but he welcomes it as he says death is the gateway to another life. Life after all, he says, is “the leavings of many deaths”! The corpse, he assumes, will be fine manure for vegetation. Death is treated in a matter of fact way by the poet. He does not present it as a feature to be dreaded. He says that it is just a passing phase into another life. The body - the physical form - dies, but the soul is immortal. It ascends towards the stars, the Sun and the moons. It becomes one with them. The poet hence delineates his approach to death, asks mankind not to shudder at the word ‘death’ and also shows ‘the oneness of all’ - that is, the souls merge with the Divine after the release from death.

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