Although some believe that Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” is inclusionary democratic poem, it additionally is exclusionary. Widely read as carrying the idea of inclusive democracy and nationalism, the critics like Betsy Erkkila defines him not only as an American but the world citizen in terms of his inclusive thoughts. But this claim of Whitman’s inclusiveness is ironically lacking in the poem, “Leaves of Grass” and in the reality. Whitman sounds rather sentimental than real in the poem. Though he seems to celebrate democracy, his idea of nationalism has failed to give comparatively equal space to the minorities of immigrants, African-Americans and Native Americans. Moreover, in his efforts to appear inclusive he sounds exclusive that has given an imperial tone to the poem. This paper aims at showing the gap between the ideal notion of nationalism and the problem of excluding minor nationalities in the poem. This contrast of Whitman’s ideal and the real will be discussed primarily with reference to the textual evidences and analysis with the ideas of critics. After some basic concepts of democracy and justice, the paper is to bring that issue into consideration.
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