Walt Whitman, Kosmos : A Study of the Persona of "Song of Myself"
Although the persona of "Song of Myself" has been the subject of a great deal of critical scholarship, there is general disagreement among the critics regarding the "I" of Whitman's poem. Four major strands of critical thought regarding the persona are evident in the literary criticism, and I have categorized these critical perspectives as follows: (1) the persona as hero, (2) the persona as dualistic self, (3) the persona as protean self, and (4) the persona as kosmos. Each critical strand of thought is examined in light of the text of "Song of Myself" in order to determine its logic, appropriateness, and defensibility. The argument is advanced that the idea of the persona of "Song of Myself" as a kosmos is the most appropriate critical conceptualization because of its comprehensiveness and cohesiveness. The use of the persona of "Song of Myself" as a metaphor for the cosmos provides unity in the poem and is its central metaphor.