Barbaric Yawp

Throughout “Song of Myself”, the speaker let out a “barbaric yawp”. A sound that is unrecognizable as human, or a speech that cannot be translated (similar to the animals he wanted to be live with). Although he only let out this barbaric yawp at the end of the poem, it can be seen throughout because he’s thriving to be one with nature and his soul, or “Me Myself” is escaping him because the hawk accused him of talking too much. So instead of talking he lets out a noise that expresses the speakers emotions or what they mean to say without using words. In this manner he is saying everything but nothing at all. Another text that can be read as a barbaric yawp was brought forth to us in the first class, “Howl” by Allen Ginesberg.


“I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self conatin’d,

I stand and look at them long and long.”

These two lines produced the most interesting couplet within Whitman’s “Song of Myself”. Throughout the poem, Whitman is celebrating himself, his soul, and convincing the readers that he’s on a journey with us; that we share the same ideas and life in us that should be appreciated. Once I reached Section 32, he began appreciating animals. He doesn’t only relate to them but prefers them over humans and makes this clear in the following stanza where he compares them both as he describes animals in a positive live but shedding negative light on human nature. He uses the flaws of human guilt, sadness, and etiquette, to contrast to the carefree attitude of animals.

Since the rest of the poem contrasted to this anti-celebratory stanza of the human race it was highlighted in my eyes. He says that all his readers should share his love for himself and direct it towards themselves yet he shows animosity toward human misery.

We then see, what is always true, that, as the seer’s hour of vision is short and rare among heavy days and months, so is its record perchance, the least part of his volume.

It was really easy to pick a sentence that irked me with its complexity because the letter had an abundance of annoyingly difficult sentences. The sentence above is the sentence that forced me to go back and read everything again. This sentence enlightened my inability to understand what Emerson is saying. I’ve understood the general idea of the letter and that this sentence is referring to the influence of books on man. When Emerson says “as the seer’s hour of vision is short and rare among heavy days and months” he is referring to the skill to think critically and create original ideas. Following this sentence, Emerson brings up Plato and Shakespeare and the writers of the world that imitate their style and follow their ideas because the influences of Shakespeare and Plato are strong. It’s frustrating because I feel like I’m reading his thoughts; he can’t form a clear and concise sentence that’s easier to follow and comprehend and its as if he’s jumping from one idea to the next. If I were to attempt to paraphrase this sentence, it’s highly likely that it wouldn’t be interpreted as Emerson intended.

Paraphrased: “As always, the seer’s hour of vision is short and rare among heavy days and months, the record of this vision becomes the least part of the seer’s volume.”

I assume the “his volume” is alluding to the creative writer’s or reader’s volume. The seer is probably someone who can critically think about what he’s reading or create something beyond the ideas presented to him within books. The phenomenon of this vision would be a minuscule part of the writer’s volume since the ability to write original ideas is rare and can only be a chapter in a book of recycled visions.

Hey, I’m Sara

I’m eighteen years old and lived sixteen of my years in Stockton, CA. About two years ago my dad got a job in Doha, Qatar and my family and I packed our bags and left in the middle of my junior year. It was definitely an experience I’m grateful to have had, although I wish the experience had ended a lot sooner. One of the highlights of my stay there was the school system there, definitely more intimate and intense than the public schools in Stockton. The school I went to gave me the opportunity to work with Habitat for Humanity and take a 10 day trip to Thailand. This adventure was especially important to my growth as a person and solidified my aspiration to become the owner of an elephant sanctuary and spend my life rescuing and taking care of elephants. If that doesn’t work out I’d settle to work in an orangutan sanctuary.

I have one older brother (who stayed in California while my dad, mom, and I took off to Qatar) that I’m trying to develop a healthy relationship with. 

My mom loves sarcasm and so do I.

To be continued…