| Quote #1
It avails not, neither time or place – instance avails not,
You could imagine the speaker as a character in a bad soap opera (the best kind) declaring to his lover, "Nothing can keep us apart!" Time and distance are not obstacles for him. Through good times and bad, he's with us and can relate to life's joys and defeats. He "knows how it is." Does this idea have serious implications, or is it just heart-warming fluff?
| Quote #2
These, and all else, were to me the same as they are to you,
Whitman's idea of friendship is built on shared experience: camaraderie. In this poem, the way he creates this mutual experience is by telling us about his experiences and then pretending that we did the same thing.
| Quote #3
What is it, then, between us?
Again with the "nothing can keep us apart" business. But, seriously, this poem was written close to the beginning of the Civil War, and the ability to break down the walls "between" people seemed like an urgent project. Incidentally, we're in good company as "imaginary friends" of Whitman: he had the same relationship with President Abraham Lincoln, in that the two men both hugely admired each other but never actually met.