The ideology of individualism is a common theme in Walt Whitman’s work. It is a concept that flourished in the U.S during the early 19th Century – “a democratic response to the new class of industrial wage-workers.” Whitman encouraged individuals to “exercise self-ownership and value original thought.” Throughout his poetry, we are able to witness his feelings on the importance of self-expression and non-conformity. It is these ideas that have inspired me to write my own poem on the constraints of society and one’s ability to break free from these shackles and realise the importance of self-expression.
I celebrate and sing myself
For I am the voice that they all wish to silence
The forest fire that burns behind my eyes
Cannot be tainted by your judgement
You tell me I cannot hum to the rhythm of originality
Because you believe that even the moon rises simply because the sun tells it so
And that the heavens cry because it is what mother instructed
And stars explode because they have shone too bright
You’re paralysed by the shame, judgement, and fear that arises from speaking out
But let me ask you one thing
Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?
Open your mind, before you open your lips
And allow yourself to be consumed in the beauty of free thought
And once you have conquered that, allow your tongue to tango with free speech
And once you hear the voice of angels
Your soul will be free!