‘Dash me with Amorous Wet, I can Repay You’

Relational Ethics, Queer Ecology, and Walt Whitman’s Poetics of Trans-human Kinship


  • Caleb Murray Brown University




queer, ethics, Ecology, Theory, trans, Gender, Religion


Walt Whitman’s poetry is famously full of ‘self’ and self-contradicting: ‘Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)’ The scholarly attention to paradox and contradiction often takes the form of an attention to various ‘binaries’ in Whitman’s prose and poetry; well-trod binaries include body-soul, sacred-profane, nature-culture, and woman-man. However, a queer attention to the poetic construction of such binaries reveals them to be fluid and ultimately non-binary. Whitman and his speakers construct binaries that relate to religion, gender, and nature, but in poeticizing the construction of binary logic (e.g., man-woman), Whitman and his speakers reveal such purportedly self-contained and discrete domains to be open, fluid, and co-constituting. Recognizing the poetic performance of ‘binary’ logic will reshape reader’s understanding of ethical and political implications of Whitman’s queerly relational nature ethics.


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How to Cite

Murray, C. (2022). ‘Dash me with Amorous Wet, I can Repay You’: Relational Ethics, Queer Ecology, and Walt Whitman’s Poetics of Trans-human Kinship. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 16(3), 370–393. https://doi.org/10.1558/jsrnc.22963