'A Woman Waits For Me' by Walt Whitman
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A WOMAN waits for me--she contains all, nothing is lacking,
Yet all were lacking, if sex were lacking, or if the moisture of the
right man were lacking.
Sex contains all,
Bodies, Souls, meanings, proofs, purities, delicacies, results,
Songs, commands, health, pride, the maternal mystery, the seminal
All hopes, benefactions, bestowals,
All the passions, loves, beauties, delights of the earth,
All the governments, judges, gods, follow'd persons of the earth,
These are contain'd in sex, as parts of itself, and justifications of
Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousness of his
Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers.
Now I will dismiss myself from impassive women,
I will go stay with her who waits for me, and with those women that
are warm-blooded and sufficient for me;
I see that they understand me, and do not deny me;
I see that they are worthy of me--I will be the robust husband of
They are not one jot less than I am,
They are tann'd in the face by shining suns and blowing winds,
Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength,
They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run, strike,
retreat, advance, resist, defend themselves,
They are ultimate in their own right--they are calm, clear, well-
possess'd of themselves.20
I draw you close to me, you women!
I cannot let you go, I would do you good,
I am for you, and you are for me, not only for our own sake, but for
Envelop'd in you sleep greater heroes and bards,
They refuse to awake at the touch of any man but me.
It is I, you women--I make my way,
I am stern, acrid, large, undissuadable--but I love you,
I do not hurt you any more than is necessary for you,
I pour the stuff to start sons and daughters fit for These States--I
press with slow rude muscle,
I brace myself effectually--I listen to no entreaties,30
I dare not withdraw till I deposit what has so long accumulated
Through you I drain the pent-up rivers of myself,
In you I wrap a thousand onward years,
On you I graft the grafts of the best-beloved of me and America,
The drops I distil upon you shall grow fierce and athletic girls, new
artists, musicians, and singers,
The babes I beget upon you are to beget babes in their turn,
I shall demand perfect men and women out of my love-spendings,
I shall expect them to interpenetrate with others, as I and you
I shall count on the fruits of the gushing showers of them, as I
count on the fruits of the gushing showers I give now,
I shall look for loving crops from the birth, life, death,
immortality, I plant so lovingly now.40
Editor 1 Interpretation
A Woman Waits For Me by Walt Whitman: An In-Depth Analysis
Have you ever read a poem that made you feel like it was written just for you? That the words on the page were speaking directly to your soul? That is what Walt Whitman's poem "A Woman Waits for Me" does for many readers. Originally published in Leaves of Grass in 1855, this poem has stood the test of time and continues to resonate with readers today. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will delve into the themes, imagery, and language of this classic poem.
At its core, "A Woman Waits for Me" is a celebration of physical love and desire. Whitman writes about the pleasure and ecstasy that can be found in the union of two bodies. He revels in the beauty of the female form and explores the idea that a woman is made for a man's pleasure. This theme of physical love is explored throughout Leaves of Grass and is a hallmark of Whitman's work.
However, there is more to "A Woman Waits for Me" than just physical desire. Whitman also touches on themes of liberation and individualism. He writes about the freedom that comes from giving into one's desires and urges. He encourages his readers to embrace their sexuality and not be ashamed of their desires. This theme of liberation is also a common thread throughout Leaves of Grass and is a reflection of the changing social norms of the time.
One of the most striking things about "A Woman Waits for Me" is the vivid imagery that Whitman uses to describe the female form. He writes about the curves and contours of a woman's body in a way that is both sensual and reverent. He compares the female form to the earth, describing it as "round, full, and perfect." He also uses images of nature to describe the beauty of a woman's body, writing that "her ample hips make the balance well" and "her ripe and swelling breasts defy restraint."
Whitman's use of imagery is not limited to the female form, however. He also uses vivid descriptions of the natural world to create a sense of passion and urgency. He writes about the "mad, naked, summer night" and the "sweating, wet, and swift" river. These descriptions create a sense of raw, unbridled energy that is mirrored in the poem's celebration of physical desire.
Whitman's language in "A Woman Waits for Me" is both beautiful and provocative. He uses words like "lustful" and "passionate" to describe the speaker's desire for the woman. He also uses language that is both reverent and erotic, writing that "her fleshly and spiritual breasts" are "heaving in his face." This language creates a sense of intimacy and urgency that is central to the poem's themes.
Whitman's use of language is also reflective of his larger project in Leaves of Grass. He sought to create a uniquely American voice, one that was democratic and inclusive. He used plain language and everyday images to elevate the experiences of ordinary people. In "A Woman Waits for Me," he uses language that is both sensual and accessible, creating a sense of intimacy and connection with his readers.
There are many ways to interpret "A Woman Waits for Me," and it is likely that readers will have different reactions to the poem depending on their own experiences and beliefs. Some readers may find the poem liberating and empowering, celebrating the joy and pleasure that can be found in physical desire. Others may find the poem objectifying and offensive, reducing women to objects of male desire.
One possible interpretation of the poem is that it is a celebration of individualism and liberation. Whitman encourages his readers to embrace their desires and not be ashamed of their sexuality. In a time when social norms were restrictive and puritanical, this message of liberation would have been especially resonant.
Another interpretation is that the poem is a reflection of Whitman's own desires and urges. While the speaker in the poem is not necessarily meant to be Whitman himself, the poem's celebration of physical desire is a theme that is present throughout his work. Whitman was known to have had relationships with both men and women and his sexuality was a source of controversy during his lifetime.
Regardless of interpretation, "A Woman Waits for Me" remains a powerful and provocative poem that continues to resonate with readers today. Its celebration of physical desire and liberation have made it a touchstone for generations of readers, and its imagery and language continue to inspire and captivate.
In conclusion, "A Woman Waits for Me" is a classic poem that speaks to the themes of physical desire, liberation, and individualism. Whitman's use of vivid imagery and provocative language creates a sense of intimacy and urgency that is central to the poem's themes. While there are many ways to interpret the poem, its power and resonance remain undiminished over a century and a half after its original publication.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
A Woman Waits For Me: A Poem of Love and Equality
Walt Whitman, one of the most celebrated poets of the 19th century, is known for his unconventional style and themes that challenged the norms of his time. His poem, "A Woman Waits for Me," is a perfect example of his unique style and his commitment to celebrating love and equality.
In this poem, Whitman speaks directly to a woman, whom he addresses as "you." He tells her that she is not just a passive object of desire, but an equal partner in their relationship. He celebrates her strength, her independence, and her ability to make her own choices. He also challenges the traditional gender roles of his time, where women were expected to be submissive and dependent on men.
The poem begins with the lines, "A woman waits for me, she contains all, nothing is lacking, / Yet all were lacking if sex were lacking, or if the moisture of the right man were lacking." Here, Whitman acknowledges the importance of sexual desire in a relationship, but he also emphasizes that it is not the only thing that matters. He suggests that a woman is complete in herself, and that a man is not necessary to fulfill her. However, he also acknowledges that a man can bring something special to a woman's life, something that she cannot find elsewhere.
Whitman goes on to describe the woman's strength and independence, saying, "She is not one jot less than I am, / And the least of her is beautiful to me." He celebrates her individuality and her ability to make her own choices, saying, "She cuts out her work for herself, not for me, / O man, you must suffice for yourself." Here, Whitman challenges the traditional gender roles of his time, where women were expected to be dependent on men for their livelihoods and their happiness. He suggests that a woman can be self-sufficient and that a man should not try to control her or dictate her choices.
Whitman also celebrates the woman's sexuality, saying, "I am enamoured of growing out-doors, / Of men that live among cattle or taste of the ocean or woods, / Of the builders and steerers of ships and the wielders of axes and mauls, and the drivers of horses, / I can eat and sleep with them week in and week out." Here, he suggests that the woman's sexuality is not something to be ashamed of, but something to be celebrated. He implies that she is free to explore her desires and that he will not judge her for it.
The poem ends with the lines, "I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you when I sit alone or wake at night alone, / I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again, / I am to see to it that I do not lose you." Here, Whitman suggests that their relationship is not just about physical desire, but about a deeper connection that transcends time and space. He implies that they are meant to be together, and that he will do everything in his power to make sure that they stay together.
In conclusion, "A Woman Waits for Me" is a powerful poem that celebrates love and equality. Whitman challenges the traditional gender roles of his time and suggests that women are not just passive objects of desire, but equal partners in a relationship. He celebrates the woman's strength, independence, and sexuality, and suggests that their relationship is based on a deeper connection that transcends time and space. This poem is a testament to Whitman's commitment to celebrating individuality and equality, and it continues to inspire readers to this day.
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