One sad thing I notice in the Longaker is how different Whitman’s view of his own body has become, now that it’s shutting down.  Here was the speaker of “Song” in 1855:

The smoke of my own breath,

Echos, ripples, and buzzed whispers . . . . loveroot, silkthread, crotch and vine,
My respiration and inspiration . . . . the beating of my heart . . . . the passing of blood
and air through my lungs,
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and darkcolored sea-
rocks, and of hay in the barn,
The sound of the belched words of my voice . . . . words loosed to the eddies of
the wind,
A few light kisses . . . . a few embraces . . . . a reaching around of arms,
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag,
The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hillsides,

The feeling of health . . . . the full-noon trill . . . . the song of me rising from bed
and meeting the sun.

He loves his body, but he’s just barely contained in it; from the way he talks, we’d think ourselves just as likely find him in a ray of sunlight or a duckling.  So different from his awful physiological imprisonment in 1891:

My great corpus is like an old wooden log . . . One favorable item at 10, a bowel movement (the first in ten days) . . .

And so forth.  He had been accused of such obscene physicality earlier on–but it’s only now that his writing really starts attending to the day-to-day life of his body, now that that body becomes his whole, urgent environment.