Tag Archives: Sexuality

“A Woman Waits for Me”

Walt Whitman’s “A Woman Waits for Me,” first titled “Poem of Procreation,” was published in the 1856 edition of Enfans d’Adam. By 1867, the book Enfans d’Adam became what is now known as Children of Adam. “A Woman waits for me” is a poem describing the heterosexual love-making between a man and a woman to make the perfect child.

The poem asserts every man as being equal to Adam, assisting in the creation of “perfect men and women out of [their] lovespendings” (260). Sex is the essences for madness, but also the key to human happiness. The madness contains: “all bodies, souls, meanings, proofs…” (258), the draining of, “the pent-up rivers” (260) into the woman “who waits for [him]” (259). This represents the unification of man and woman, who shall make the perfect “crops” (260). These “crops” will then, “from the birth, life, death, immortality. . . ,” acquire the essences of creating the perfect child.

The sexual intercourse occurring, materializes the sperm fertilizing the seed, and the relation of the planting process for the perfect “crop.” The results of these acts creates the “new gestation” (72). As readers, Whitman is presenting this radical idea for us as the readers to become new artists and poets because of this planted seed idea, while in the poem the lovers are creating this new perfect child through true sexual seed planting, “out of. . .lovespending” (260).

Phrenology may have encouraged Whitman’s “notion that human character could be “read” in a person’s physical attributes and that moral character, as well as physical traits, could be passed down from one generation to the next” (Killingsworth). Through Whitman’s “A Woman Waits for Me,” it has been said that it demonstrates his, “theme of human perfectibility wove with eugenic themes.” The ability that flawless human creation can be achieved only through those who are perfect. Thus meaning the perfect offspring can only be cultivated from Adam and the unification with whichever maiden he chooses. Whitman is presenting this theme in the poem through these explicit sexual experiences and through this, those reading this poem can experience an intimate experience themselves, a kind of, “sexual act of interpenetration” (Folsom and Price 72).

Melanie Murphy

Biography and Further Reading
Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price. Re-scripting Walt Whitman: an introduction to his life and work. (Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.2005.Print); Jimmie M. Killingsworth. Whitman’s poetry of the body: sexuality, politics, and the text. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.1989. Print); Jimmie M. Killingsworth. “The Walt Whitman Archive.” M. Jimmie, Killingsworth, “Human Body.” (Web. 28 Oct. 2013); James E. Miller Jr.”The Walt Whitman Archive.” James E., Jr., Miller, “Children of Adam [1860].”(Web. 28 Oct. 2013); Whitman, Walt. Poetry and prose.( New York: Library of America, 1996. Print).