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Whitman’s “Friable Shore with Trails of Drift”: Self-annihilation as Potential Power of Self-expansion

Title
Whitman’s “Friable Shore with Trails of Drift”: Self-annihilation as Potential Power of Self-expansion
Author
장정우
Keywords
Song of Myself; As I Ebb`d with the Ocean of Life; self-annihilation; self-expansion; readers; sign; shore; ocean; Paumanok; debris; gaze
Issue Date
2015-09
Publisher
한국아메리카학회
Citation
미국학 논집, v. 47, No. 2, Page. 125-143
Abstract
Whitman portrays his poetic self in overwhelmingly celebrating terms in “Song of Myself.” In 1855, his poetic self is self-sufficient and triumphant. But his poetic self appears totally different in the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass. One of the most remarkable poems about this change is “As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life” in which his triumphant self is replaced by the powerless self. This essays examines how strikingly different this poem is from his previous poems. In particular, the contents and style of “As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life” are analyzed to explain why Whitman writes this kind of peculiar poem. The poet with his sense of diminution is torn between the ideal self and the actual self in “As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life.” While the poet struggles against his self-doubt and despair, he reads symbolically the detritus at his feet left by the ocean. He regards himself as sign and emblem of drift and debris on the shore. In the meantime, the poet excessively magnifies his depression, instead of taking control of his despair. As a matter of fact, he indulges in a bitter self-recrimination expressing his regret for having written his poems. Whitman deliberately intensifies his condition of despair to such an extent that he demonstrates self-annihilation along with self-mocking. His usage of self-annihilation in the poem functions as an effective implement to move him through his limitation and give rise to his reawakening about his readers. It motivates him to turn toward his readers more closely and establish a new relationship with his readers. In this sense, his self-annihilation in “As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life” is another version of self-expansion because it works as a stepping-stone to further his relationship with his readers. Whitman’s symbolic self-presentation of himself as debris and drift in the poem ultimately comes to have potential power of his self-expansion because it provides him with an opportunity to embrace his readers.
URI
http://scholar.dkyobobook.co.kr/searchDetail.laf?barcode=4010024682423https://repository.hanyang.ac.kr/handle/20.500.11754/101466
ISSN
1226-3753
Appears in Collections:
COLLEGE OF LANGUAGES & CULTURES[E](국제문화대학) > ENGLISH LANGUAGE & CULTURE(영미언어·문화학과) > Articles
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