It’s always a pleasure to analyse the work of Walt Whitman. The poem “O Me! O life!” is a perfect Whitman-style poem to analyse. This poem is about self-reflection.
About “O Me! O Life!”
What’s up with the title of this work by Whitman? Well, it is most certainly a different type of title. But don’t let this spoil the fun! This poem is free verse and self-reflection combined.
Whitman agrees that there are things out there he persues that are better. Better than him or a better situation. The questions he keeps asking himself keep on repeating.
He sees crowds surrounding him and what makes them better than he does? What makes a foolish city better than he is?
This poem was published in the poetry collection “Leaves of Grass” (1855). This is still an iconic poetry collection, that inspired and inspires many poets. Famous poets and not-so-famous poets. Living poets and poets that passed away.
“Oh Me! O Life!” is written in that particular Whitman-style. It’s free verse at its best!
How about you?
O Me! O Life!
Oh me! Oh 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.
— Walt Whitman