||This thesis deals with Whitman’s poems by investigating his transcendental vision as an important factor that embodies the profound thoughts of the poet. In his early works, Whitman’s concept of universal embracement has already reflected his transcendentalism. Although sometimes we may find his universal embracement seems over-idealized due to its quality of wide inclusiveness, we still can see him balancing and transcending the conflicts involved. As a universal poet, the issue of conflicts is what he attempts to handle and overcome in his writing. Then, through his volunteer work during the Civil War, Whitman shows his great patriotism and sympathy in helping people in need, and his experiences modify certain perspectives of his transcendental vision, especially in the respect of death. Nevertheless, the cruelty of the war does not diminish his transcendental vision; instead it brings out his deeper understanding of death and life and predicts the future development of American democracy.
Through an overview of Whitman’s transcendentalism, we can perceive a higher level of his vision by studying his poetic fluidity and universal experience. In a deeper sense, his transcendental vision not only suggests the union of all things in a concept of wholeness but also moves on to a transparent state of mind— the state of nothingness. We can trace this back to Whitman’s early works and grasp the contour of such a state of mind by which he transcends all limits and boundaries.
Whitman’s transcendentalism plays an important role in his entire career. This study of his transcendental vision will focus on how it develops and matures. The second chapter examines Whitman’s universal embracement in his poems in which we can see his embracing all qualities through his sympathy and identification with everything of the world, including such opposing forces as good and evil, body and soul, life and death, etc. He not only intends to absorb the conflicts in his universal embracement but also attempts to transcend them. The third chapter discusses Whitman’s transcendental vision under the impact of the Civil War and his transformation from patriotism to sympathy with both North and South so as to reach conciliation. Such a change also influences his attitude toward democracy in the postwar reconstruction. Chapter four studies Whitman’s transcendental vision that helps form his special position in American literature.
The last chapter does a review of Whitman’s transcendental vision by discussing its connection with his nation and American literature as a whole. Indeed, Whitman’s transcendental vision, like melody beyond his poetic expressions, gives us deeper insight into the great communion in the universe.