Aspects of Taoism in the poetry of Walt Whitman

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This thesis draws numerous parallels between Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching, The Writings of Chuang Tze, and the poetry of Walt Whitman. Although Taoism is not one of the influences on Whitman or Leaves of Grass, the Chinese philosophy elucidates through comparison three of Whitman's major poetic themes or concepts. First, the ineffable, infinite, and transcendent nature of Tao helps one to understand Whitman's conception of Being. Second, though different degrees of transcendental awareness are attained by Whitman and the Taoists, they experience Being or Tao simultaneously with worldly experiences. Standing both 'in and out' of the world gives all of them a sense of security and objectivity, and helps them to understand both both the illusion and truth that the world presents. The third major parallel examined in this thesis is that of the paths taken, or methods employed, to arrive at the experience of Being. Throughout the application of Taoism to Whitman's poetry, other literary and religious expressions are employed. Yet the focus of the present study is always on the juxtaposition and comparison of quotations taken directly from Whitman and the Taoists.
Bibliography: p. 152-153.
Clark, R. Y. (1984). Aspects of Taoism in the poetry of Walt Whitman (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/24177