Song of Myself
How we cite our quotes:
A gigantic beauty of a stallion, fresh and responsive to my caresses,
Head high in the forehead and wide between the ears,
Limbs glossy and supple, tail dusting the ground,
Eyes well apart and full of sparkling wickedness . . . . ears finely cut and flexibly moving.
His nostrils dilate . . . . my heels embrace him . . . . his well built limbs tremble with pleasure . . . . we speed around and return. (section 32)
In addition to people, the speaker develops the bonds of friendship with animals and also with non-living things. He expresses his love and affection through touching and body contact, as you see here when the horse is "responsive to my caresses."
Man or woman! I might tell how I like you, but cannot,
And might tell what it is in me and what it is in you, but cannot,
And might tell the pinings I have . . . . the pulse of my nights and days.
Behold I do not give lectures or a little charity,
What I give I give out of myself.
You there, impotent, loose in the knees, open your scarfed chops till I blow grit within you,
Spread your palms and lift the flaps of your pockets,
I am not to be denied . . . . I compel . . . . I have stores plenty and to spare,
And any thing I have I bestow.
I do not ask who you are . . . . that is not important to me,
You can do nothing and be nothing but what I will infold you.
To a drudge of the cottonfields or emptier of privies I lean . . . . on his right cheek I put the family kiss,
And in my Soul I swear I never will deny him. (section 40)
The idea of confiding and telling secrets occurs several times in the poem. The speaker has a secret to tell other people but is not able to do so, probably because language itself is not sufficient. Instead, he shows his affection through actions, by supporting those whom society would normally marginalize. He often compares himself very subtly to Jesus Christ. At the end of this passage, the statement "I never will deny him" refers to Jesus' friend and disciple Peter, who famously denied Jesus three times after he was captured.
Listener up there! Here you . . . . what have you to confide to me?
Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening,
Talk honestly, for no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer. (section 52)
At the end of the poem, the speaker tells the friend he's talking to (us!) that he will be leaving on his trip, so we shouldn't waste the chance to confide in him. This "journey" might be a metaphor for death.