Belongingness – Great Poetry

In my previous post I talked about how great art can depict the feelings that we all share when our belongingness needs are being satisfied by being with friends and family.

In this post I would like to present two poems.  Both of which use the art of poetry to express the same feelings that are expressed in the art of painting.

Friendship, verses 46-55 (Thoreau, 1840-1844)

Two sturdy oaks I mean, which side by side,

Withstand the winter’s storm,

And spite of wind and tide,

Grow up the meadow’s pride,

For both are strong.

Above they barely touch, but undermined

Down to their deepest source,

Admiring you shall find

Their roots are intertwined


Many of the artist’s poems are concerned with issues expressed in his essays: nature, truth, and social justice.  This poem uses his love of nature to evoke the feelings of simple friendship.  This is a powerful interpretation of the desire to satisfy one’s need for belongingness with others.


I Hear America Singing, from Leaves of Grass (Whitman, 1867)

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,

Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,

The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,

The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off 

The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand

Singing on the steamboat deck,

The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,

The woodcutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or

At noon intermission or at sundown,

The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of

The girl sewing or washing,

Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,

The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows,

Robust, friendly,

Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

The poem, one of Whitman’s most famous, presents an image of America as a collection of proud, individualistic, healthy and productive individuals.  The poem’s genius is that the individual songs are blended together to create a unified and strong America.  The poem provides a clear interpretation of belongingness and involvement, and the benefits of each to the individuals as well as society. 

Both of these poems depict the satisfaction of close friendships and ties to the community.  Both go a long way to accomplishing our need for belongingness.


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