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Literature for SELF-Discovery

Whitman’s Self – eBook

Mysticism in the Life and Writings of Walt Whitman

Mysticism in the Life and Writings of Walt Whitmanby Paul Hourihan, edited by Anna Hourihan
ISBN: 978-1-931816-16-8

“At a time like this, Dr. Hourihan performs a valuable service by his courageous reaffirmation of what is of permanent value in the life and works of one of the most original minds in American literature.”
– Dr. V. K. Chari, author of Whitman in the Light of Vedantic Mysticism

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In this fascinating study, Paul Hourihan explores how Whitman’s spiritual revelations and struggles informed his most significant works—especially his ground-breaking poem “Song of Myself.” This eBook is based on the Whitman section of Mysticism in American Literature: Thoreau’s Quest and Whitman’s Self, with additional material added. It contains insightful and provocative interpretations of Whitman’s writing that will intrigue those who know Walt Whitman well … as well as those who are just getting introduced to him.

From the beginning Whitman will celebrate himself as the center of the universe and of all things, for he has experienced the truth of this wisdom.

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. (1)

But he will not separate himself in any way from his fellows: they too are the center of things. This is the remarkable message of the prophet-mystic. Buddha: You have the Buddha-nature within you; tread this path and you will realize it.

Two ideas quickly appear in the poem, then: not only is his soul the center of the universe but he is one with all humanity outside. In fact, there is no outside. This one self of his is the self of every man that reads, and he therefore would like every man to know his poetry—he craved to become the Poet of Democracy, read by ordinary men everywhere (a desire that we know was frustrated permanently)….

Whitman embraces everything. Not by an act of will, but by the truth of being, his being:

In me the caresser of life wherever moving … not a person or object missing,
Absorbing all to myself and for this song. (13)

Taking everything into himself—his larger, divine self, we must always keep in mind—becoming a magnet, irresistibly drawing the truths from humanity. No one can resist him. No one can conceal the truth from him. He absorbs all. And for this song. This ultimate poem. This apocalypse, which is—he feels—to be the beginning of the true literature of humanity. A new Scripture for moderns.

Paul Hourihan, who had a Ph.D. in American literature, and 25 years teaching and writing in the field of mystical studies, combines his lifelong passion for literature and mysticism to give us an insightful look into the life of one of America’s own celebrated mystical writers of the 19th century.