Comparison of Whitman’s Song of Myself and Gaga’s Born this Way

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Lady Gaga is a well-known pop singer and artist who is well-known in the music business. "Born this Way," one of her best-selling and well-liked tracks, drew a lot of praise and criticism when it was first published. Walt Whitman, on the other hand, was a poet and writer from the 1800s who published a number of works of literature. Many scholars have analyzed one of his poems, "Song of Myself," because it represents a kind of uniqueness in the field of literature. In this context, a comparison of the two works of art by Lady Gaga and Walt Whitman are the basis of the paper. A critical analysis and comparison of the themes, and styles, for these two works has been conducted to point out any similarities and differences in the various aspects of the works of art mentioned.

Poem Summary

In Whitman’s poem, 'Song of Myself', it is very clear that the piece of work does not have a single idea or even plotline being talked about but rather, a mixture of several themes and styles. So many ideas have been juggled in the poem that it does not exhibit a clear flow to the reader about what exactly the poet wanted to take home (Westendorp 340). In fact, the poem appears to be having new ideas every time an individual reads it because of the disarranged flow of thoughts which a reader has to literally search to determine exactly what is being communicated (Westendorp 340). The uniqueness of this piece of work has made appealing to many people who love going back to read it because they have hopes of finding something new every time to cling to.

The entire poem seems to revolve around human beings being equal. Whitman appeared to be so obsessed with equality of humans regardless of one’s status; whether rich, poor, wrong-doer, or a good person (Westendorp 341). He recognized the working group who were economically secure, the poverty stricken people who were so poor, and the prostitutes alike, and asserted that everyone was equal. For example, he says in one line that; “Every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you” (Westendorp 341). What this simply means is that whether a person is “good” or “bad”, they are all the same because they are created by the same God who creates them using the same building blocks, the “atoms” mentioned in the poem. Furthermore, the poet is also so obsessed with the love of life. He views life to be a very good and special gift to humans. In one of the lines he says that; “Has anyone supposed it lucky to be born? I hasten to tell him or her it is just as lucky to die” (Westendorp 342). He is telling the readers that everything is just okay and that they should never worry.

Summary of the Song: Born this Way

Lady Gaga’s song “Born this Way” is very crucial and unique in that it talks about what many artists rarely thought about either in written or performed arts (Williams 28). Her song seems to revolve more around feminism, sexuality, and acceptance of oneself. For instance, she asserts in the song that whether one was born a gay, straight or a lesbian, it does not matter provided you love yourself and recognize that it is God who created you (Williams 32). She also recognizes that transgender people in her song. In the society today, the homosexuals and transgender people have continued to face discrimination and humiliations from various dimensions of life. The song was composed at the wake of the freedom of choice of who to get sexually attracted to. The song encourages the victims of gender and sexual humiliations and discrimination that they were born that way and therefore they should not hide because of shame but rather, they should rejoice because they were created wonderfully and God does not make mistakes.


Whereas in Whitman’s poem free verse has been used in the entire piece of work, Lady Gaga employed consistency and progressive flow in her work. Whitman does not follow any formal order of writing the poem lines and this explains why his work is difficult to understand at once what ideas he is conveying to his readers. On the other hand, Gaga’s work depicts clear lines which flow properly and communicates effectively and conveniently the ideas. Whitman has used several long lines in his work whereas in Gaga’s song, the lines are short and most of the words have been shortened. The application of short lines and shortened words is because of the need to achieve rhythm and musicality. Whitman’s work is a poem which can be spoken whereas Gaga’s work is a song which is sung and therefore must have a good rhythm only achieved through shortening of lines and words within lines.

In both cases, repetition (alliteration) has been widely applied. For example, Lady Gaga has overly repeated words like “born this way” and the main reasons for this kind of alliteration is to achieve musicality and rhythm of the piece of art while at the same time stressing or adding emphasis on what she is communicating to her audience. Similarly, Whitman has repeated words like; “Over the growing sugar . . . over the cotton plant . . . over the rice in its low moist field”, among others. The main aim for repetition, in this case, is seen as that of emphasis more than musicality or rhythm. He appears to be stressing a certain idea to the readers of his work.

Whitman has used notable imagery in his work. He uses imagery to bring the past into the present. Use of imagery gives him freedom and democracy to design his poem in a way that suits his desires. Similarly, Lady Gaga has also tried bringing the past into the present. For example, she remembers what her mother told her when she was still a young growing superstar. She says that; “My mama told me when I was young…We are all born superstars…There's nothing wrong with loving who you are…Cause he made you perfect, babe…So hold your head up girl and you'll go far” (Williams 38). In this case, she is trying to bring a picture of her mother talking to her as she was still a kid.

In both works, God has been highly recognized as a Supreme Being. For example, Lady Gaga sings that whether you love him or H.I.M does not matter because we are all the same. The “H.I.M” refers to God whereas “him” could be referring to other forms of gods. The sameness as described by Gaga in her song has also been captured by Whitman in his poem. Whitman recognizes that regardless of the one’s status, we are all equal especially before God because the atom in the good person belongs to all including the “bad”. Gaga also notes that regardless of which “god” one worships, we are all the same.

She also mentions the DNA which can be likened to Whitman’s atoms. Gaga in her song says that; “same DNA but born this way” (Williams 38); an indication that birth is a just physical but inner us, we are the same. The same point is stressed by Whitman when he mentions the atoms. The common thing between DNA and atom is that in science they are considered small particles or units which build life (biological science) and matter (physical science).

Works Cited

Westendorp, Tjebbe A. "Ezra Greenspan,(ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Walt Whitman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995,£ 35 cloth£ 13.95 paper). Pp. 235. ISBN 0 521 44343 1, 0 521 44807 7." Journal of American Studies 30.02 (1996): pp.340-341.

Williams, Juliet. “Same DNA, But Born This Way”: Lady Gaga and the Possibilities of Post-Essentialist Feminisms.” Journal of Popular Music Studies, (2014): pp.28-46.

August 09, 2021

Music Literature



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Song Walt Whitman

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Expertise Walt Whitman
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