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O Me! O Life!
Walt Whitman


O Me! O life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill'd with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew'd,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

That you are here—that life exists, and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

From Leaves of Grass (1892).
This poem is in the public domain.



Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892) is primarily known for a collection of poems called Leaves of Grass, which he completely revised at least five times during the course of his life and which appeared in print in at least three different editions. Though his formal education ended with elementary school, Whitman was an educator at several points in his life. More often, he worked as a printer, a clerk, or a nurse; he was chronically poor, but managed to interject culture (he loved opera) and travel into his life. He achieved international acclaim during the course of his career, but probably had as many detractors as he did fans.


Post New Comment:
my sentiments, exactly...
Posted 09/25/2021 11:52 AM
Lori Levy:
Great last line.
Posted 09/24/2021 05:57 PM
May we all "contribute a verse"...
Posted 09/24/2021 01:44 PM
Ah, life...And doesn't this poem make one think about their own existence and what it really means to the purpose and possibly the uplifting of all people? It certainly works this way for me. Amen?
Posted 09/24/2021 10:25 AM
michael escoubas:
Only Whitman can write such gorgeous extended lines! Great post, Jayne.
Posted 09/24/2021 09:21 AM
Larry Schug:
I so much like "Answer". Way to go, Walt
Posted 09/24/2021 07:23 AM
Oh yes, a most interesting find. Question and response. Asked and answered, as the lawyers say.
Posted 09/24/2021 07:17 AM

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