| Quote #4
Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore,
She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank,
Which of the young men does she like the best?
Where are you off to, lady? for I see you,
Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty- ninth bather,
Throughout the poem, the speaker "identifies" with various other people and characters in small vignettes like this one. The shy woman hides behind her window but touches the naked men with her eyes. The poem takes on her perspective as Whitman pours his enormous personality into her.
| Quote #5
I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise,
[. . .]
I resist anything better than my own diversity,
As he says later in the poem, the speaker contains "contradictions" and opposites. He's both the Yin and Yang, if you will. His diversity reflects the diversity of America, a "nation of many nations." He especially takes care not to seem like a snob or an elitist, even though some people have claimed that Whitman was an elitist in real life. "Song of Myself" is a populist poem, meaning that Whitman exalts the "common man" and not the wealthy or the elite.
| Quote #6
Walt Whitman, an American, one of the roughs, a kosmos,
These lines read almost like an epigraph on a tomb. You'll notice that, at least in the 1855 version, the speaker defines himself first and foremost as an American. (Later he will define himself as "of Manhattan"). Again, the talk of common pleasures like eating and sex gives these lines a populist ring: he enjoys the things that the "common man" enjoys.