Whitman as a poet of joy and optimism


The note of joy and optimism that Walt Whitman (1819-1892) puts in his remarkable poems is very much related to his idea of the body, soul, and the universe. In “Song of Myself”, Whitman identifies a mystical unification of all things in this universe. He remarks that in this universe all things share a holy, divine, and single identity. Again, Whitman says, there is a positive purpose to living and every creature has its value in the cosmic design. He explores death as not the end of our life, but it’s the way to a new beginning. It is this positive purpose in his poem that makes Whitman an optimist.  

More Notes: Walt Whitman

 Optimism about Scientific Inventions: 

Whitman is out and out a man of realistic attitude. He believes in Science, Technology, materialism, and Democracy. He always gives priority to reality. He praises the scientists who invented the Atom and are working for the betterment of mankind. Whitman introduces the idea of the atom. The poet says in the very first stanza of “Song of Myself “,  

I celebrate myself and sing myself 

And what I assume you shall assume 

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. 

According to Whitman atom is the smallest component of matter, which is permanent and invisible. In every atom, there is a constant urge to mingle with another atom.   

 Optimism about Gods blessing and Divinity:  

Whitman is a man with a realistic attitude. So, he is not interested in philosophical aspects or discussions. He evaluates present and visible things not the invisible except God and immortality. Whitman’s optimism is associated with his idea of God and the divine plan.  In his poem “Song of Myself” Whitman shows his interest to get the blessing of God. He can enjoy God’s blessing under all circumstances. He relates in section 48 of “Song of Myself”,  

I hear and behold God in every object, yet I understand God not in the least, 

Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself 

 Again, as everything belongs to the same God, there is no room for evil in this universe. Thus, Whitman accepts the healing effect of both ‘evil and ‘the reform of evil’. He believes in spirituality. According to Whitman, the body is the source for realizing the unseen soul. Whitman is very happy with the blessing of God. He feels pleased with his body. So, he is in joy and optimistic about his spirituality after the physical death.   

Optimism on Immortality:

Whitman realizes that everything is immortal. Again, he finds the inherent unity behind all things. It leads the poet to be optimistic in outlook. The poet thus identifies himself with others in section 20 declaring,  

In all people I see myself 

Optimistic Vision of Democracy:

In the poem “Song of Myself” Whitman’s vision of democracy is found. His unified vision of self merges all geographical and racial differences. He asserts that he belongs to every hue and caste and every religion. Moreover, he shows his love for other forms of life such as the moose, the team, and the wild gander. He believes that the same old law works on everything.   

Optimism on equality :

He imagines a world free of oppression, injustice, and inequality. He finds no racial, caste, or gender discrimination. Even death is not the final word, as it inevitably leads toward regeneration. Thus, life is meaningful and worth living. In this way, Whitman is thoroughly an optimist in his “Song of Myself’.  

More Notes: Suggestions

Optimistic for the Future:

Whitman shows his optimistic attitude about the future in section 51 of “Song of Myself”. Whitman dreams about a future where everyone will be happy. He urges the readers to forget about the bad experience of the past. He hopes that he will grow again in the form of grass on this earth. If people search for him, they will find him under their boot soles. In the end, the poet suggests that those who are honest and sincere will end their journey with a union with Almighty God.   


Walt Whitman main, the poet suggests that honest and sincere people trained an optimistic outlook on the future condition of the world throughout his lifetime. He celebrates all the organs of his body. He invites everyone to join him on his mystic journey to attain eternity. He was confident that only good would prevail and rule as the world progressed.  

Rashedul Islam
Rashedul Islam

Hi, This is Rashedul. Researcher and lecturer of English literature and Linguistics.

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