Leaves of Grass
Philosophical Parallels in Plato's Meno and the 1855 Leaves of Grass
There are several parallels between the ideas presented in the Socratic dialogue Meno by Plato and the ideas suggested by Walt Whitman's poetry in the first edition of his work Leaves of Grass. Though the Meno is presented as a work of philosophy, and the 1855 edition Leaves of Grass (Leaves) is a work of poetry, the ideas presented within each have certain commonalities with the other. Gay Wilson Allen has characterized Leaves as a "program poem" (Allen 120), meaning that the poet had a set of ideas to communicate. Though Allen quotes Whitman as saying that the poems were written out of "unconscious or mostly unconscious intentions" , the poet was also not aiming at "art or aestheticism" (120) either, so the ideas presented within the poems may be analyzed in a light not only poetic, but philosophical.
In the Socratic dialogues, a central thought that Plato puts forth is rather abstract, called in Greek anamnesis (Silverman, bibliography). It is the recollection of knowledge from some source other than what can be learned in this life. It is, essentially, an assertion that earthly knowledge has an unearthly, other-worldly, or, at least, immaterial source. Plato recounts that Socrates first and...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 931 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7474 literature essays, 2115 sample college application essays, 310 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in