I imagine the structure of “Song of Myself” as that of a cone standing on its point: it starts with this authorial “I”, the self, and gradually expands to include as much of life as it can, gradually encompassing everything, and ultimately dispersing, ending with “you”. So by the end of the poem, the “I” is actually all of us.
I wanted to make explicit the confrontation of the “I” of the poem and the author Walt Whitman. We have this universal incarnation of the poem’s “I” lounging in the void, studying one of its millions of avatars, who also happens to be its creator. It’s comical but it also hints at the general gist of the poem.
This is one of the key spreads in the book, because it is a big turning point in the poem. In the 1855 edition, this is the first time you learn the name of the author.
Allen Crawford is an illustrator, designer, and writer. He and his wife Susan are proprietors of the design/illustration studio Plankton Art Co. Their most notable project to date is the collection of 400 species identification illustrations that are on permanent display at the American Museum of Natural History’s Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. Under his pseudonym, Lord Breaulove Swells Whimsy, he wrote, designed, and illustrated The Affected Provincial’s Companion, Volume One, which was optioned for film by Johnny Depp’s production company, Infinitum Nihil. He lives in Mt. Holly, NJ.
Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works.
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