Song of Virginia

missvirginia on Aug 30th 2009

Whitman’s frontispiece is one of aloofness. A type of aura extends beyond the picture and urges the viewer to read on because of the allure Whitman exudes. His facial expression almost seems like he’s thinking “think what you want about me, because I couldn’t care less”. That type of aura spellbinds me and makes me want to find out why he is so arrogantly rebellious.

His hat, cocked to the side, provokes a sort of quizzical air in the picture; much like a dog cocking their head to the side when confused. However, combined with the arrogant, come-hither expression of his face, it’s very “don’t you want me?” If that were the case, it’s a wonder that he didn’t have a more playboy reputation.

His body is completely facing the camera, or artist, which suggests he would face things head on. In my research, he did not seem afraid of confrontation, thus it rings true. Yet, his body is juxtaposed with is head since he did not face the camera/artist completely. With the hat tilted and his face turned slightly, so the shadow falls on the left side of his face, he is exuding a very mysterious yet aggressive stance towards the reader.

I think this pose would have been effective in winning the potential reader to becoming an avid reader while browsing the bookshelves of a store in the 1850’s.

Virginia's Frontispiece

Virginia's Frontispiece

It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it,
I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked,
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.

The smoke of my own breath,
Echoes, ripples, buzz’d whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine,
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing
of blood and air through my lungs,
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and
dark-color’d sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn,

This excerpt is from the second part of the Song of Myself. I identified with the verses because I grew up in a very rural community, I was always outdoors and still love hiking and walking around my house and on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I know what it’s like to be naked outdoors, when I was a kid my best friend and I used to skinny dip in a lake behind her house. It is always thrilling to be outdoors to me, especially when scaling a large mountain. Heaving and huffing, it’s natural to feel akin to nature once you’ve been climbing all over her rolling hills and staring up through the trees to an azure blue sky. It’s a reassurance of feeling human, solid, and totally capable. Apparently, Whitman felt the same!

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