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These I Singing in Spring and Not Heaving from My Ribb’d Breast Only

By Walt Whitman


Analysis by Bob S.

8th Grade


Everything in our world is a microcosm of the universe—the basis for transcendentalism.  The Victorian age was a time where reason ruled, and emotion was suppressed.  Walt Whitman was one of the few who rose up against the common ideals of his time.  His poem “These I Singing in Spring” reflects upon his past experiences in life; as a poet and as a person.  “Not Heaving from My Ribb’d Breast Only” depicts the most intense experiences of life through a powerful voice. Whitman’s spiritual passages allow him to express the deepest emotions.

“Not Heaving From My Ribb’d Breast Only”—uses the repetition of the word “not” to emphasize the deepest emotions of life.  He is saying out of all the things he’s experienced in his life, none are as important as the truth he finds in his poetry.  In this poem Whitman portrays himself as a truth seeker who uses poetry to study the essence of life.  He is speaking to the source of his poetry or song; whether it be God, family, friends or nature.  The common Victorian man would have a lot of trouble understanding where Whitman was coming from.  Whitman believed that he couldn’t live without his poetry, but he could live without his heart, which, in a sense, means that his poetry will live on even after his heart stops beating. However, the common Victorian-era business man would see Whitman’s concept as absurd.  The tone of the poem speaks of the appreciation for life that Whitman has and the songs that life gives him. 

     Walt Whitman focused on the spiritual aspects of life in his poetry.  He transcended the narrow thinking of the Victorian age.  Like Blake and Ginsberg, Whitman was an anti-conformist, and especially like Ginsberg, Whitman devoted a large part of his life to helping the working class.  His poem, “These I Singing in Spring” described the more delicate emotion of life and how they should be cherished.  The other poem, “Not Heaving from My Ribb’d Breast Only” speaks of the necessity for inner peace and inner thought.  Both of these poems allowed Whitman to express his deepest emotion and vision through poetry.

The Best Minds:  The Life and Achievements of

Allen Ginsberg



            “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,” 1955 landmarks a new age of poetry, when 29 year old Allen Ginsberg released his bestselling publication “Howl and other Poems,” through City Lights Publishing.  Years of living in a capitalist America under the roof of his mentally ill mother, Ginsberg gained a passionate dislike for the wealthy class. Once he enrolled in Columbia University, he vowed to live his life to improve and protect the working class.  The New York City environment he lived his adult life shaped his major beliefs as apolitical radical, free speaker, and the key leader of the Beat Movement.  His favorite poets, Walt Whitman and Edgar Allen Poe influenced him greatly in his poems advocating the terrors of war, the corruption of society and the troubles of the common man. 


…”War Profit Litany” describes the terrors of war through powerful language, images, and references to war lords in congress as aggregates and drunks. Ginsberg yet again speaks to the masses just as in “Velocity of Money,” expressing the terrors of war by listing “the names” of the corporations, combines, manufacturers, and supporters of the war,

specifically the Vietnam War. Similar to “Velocity of Money” in theme and structure, “War Profit Litany” defines Allen Ginsberg’s anger with the government’s decision to protect capitalistic principles through war.

            Synonymous to most of his other poems, the tone of “War Profit Litany” remains calm, but aggressive, as if a speaker needs to read it with a straight face looking straight into one’s eyes.  Allen Ginsberg writes in this manner to express his loathing for the system, and uses this style as one of his many poems to degrade the name of the government… 

            “War Profit Litany” speaks informally to one because unlike most other people, Ginsberg understood that the problems in America were not created by one person, but by everybody in the system.  Therefore, he did not acknowledge them in the poem…


…he immediately breaks off into the image of “skin-burning phosphorous or shells fragmented to thousands of flesh piercing needles,” that are displayed as the profits of merchandisers who produced them.  Ginsberg understood that the manufacturers of those weapons of mass destruction did not acknowledge the death they will cause, because they are simply blinded by the money they will make, and the fear of losing endorsements from the government and military.  The manufacturer’s dependency on government money greatly exemplified corrupt capitalism to Ginsberg on an ethical level.  In references to the government, further into the poem on line 16, it states “and here are the names of the ambassadors to the capitol… who sit drinking in the hotel lobbies to persuade,” insulting those who represent government, considering them drunks.  All the companies involved in the Vietnam War which he lists in “War Profit Litany” were endorsed by the government in return for their products.  The napalm fruits of war only yielded death