Song of Myself
How we cite our quotes:
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadowed wilds,
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.
I depart as air . . . . I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies and drift it in lacy jags.
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your bootsoles.
You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.
Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop some where waiting for you (section 52)
Did you ever read the Shel Silverstein book The Giving Tree when you were a kid? Here, Whitman is like The Giving Man. At the end of the poem, he gives up his body to the air and the soil. He does not think he has to give up his identity in order to merge back with nature.