had a passion for his native soil; he was hypnotized by the word America
; he spent much of his mature life in brooding over the question, “What, after all, is an American, and what should an American poet be in our age of science and democracy?”
It is true that he was as untypical as Poe
of the average citizen of “these states.”
His personality is unique.
In many respects he still baffles our curiosity.
He repels many of his countrymen without arousing the pity which adds to their romantic interest in Poe
. Whatever our literary students may feel, and whatever foreign critics may assert, it must be acknowledged that to the vast majority of American men and women “good old Walt” is still an outsider.
Let us try to see first the type of mind with which we are dealing.
It is fundamentally religious, perceiving the unity and kinship and glory of all created things.
It is this passion of worship which inspired St. Francis
of Assisi's Canticle to the Sun
It cries, “Benedicite, Omnia opera Domini: All ye Green Things upon the Earth, bless ye the Lord
That is the real motto for Whitman
's Leaves of Grass
Like St. Francis
, and like his own immediate master, Ralph Waldo Emerson
is a mystic.
He cannot argue the