right man were lacking.
Sex contains all, bodies, souls,
delights of the earth,
of his sex,
Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers.
that are warm-blooded and sufficient for me,
of those women.
retreat, advance, resist, defend themselves,
possess’d of themselves.
“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.” The madness contains “all bodies, souls, meanings, proofs … the draining of, “the pent-up rivers” into the woman “who waits for [him].” This represents the unification of man and woman, who shall make the perfect “crops.” .These “crops” will then, “from the birth, life, death, immortality. . . ” acquire the essences of creating the perfect child.
Sexual intercourse 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.” Whitman is presenting to his readers the idea of becoming new artists and poets, while in the poem the lovers are creating this new perfect child through true sexual seed planting, “out of. . .lovespending.”
Jimmie Killingsworth writes that the pseudoscience of 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.” Whitman’s “A Woman Waits for Me” demonstrates his “theme of human perfectibility wove with eugenic themes.” Thus meaning the perfect offspring can only be cultivated from Adam and the unification with whichever maiden he chooses. Ed Folsom and Kenneth Price suggest that Whitman is presenting this theme in the poem through explicit sexual experiences and those reading this poem can experience an intimate experience themselves, a kind of,“sexual act of interpenetration.”
Biography and Further Reading Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price, Re-scripting Walt Whitman: an introduction to his life and work (2005); Jimmie M. Killingsworth, Whitman’s poetry of the body: sexuality, politics, and the text. (1989); Jimmie M. Killingsworth, “Human Body,” The Walt Whitman Archive; James E. Miller Jr., Children of Adam , The Walt Whitman Archive.
Credits Composed by Melanie Murphy, Spring 2017.