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Song of Myself

Song of Myself

by Walt Whitman

Identity Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

I celebrate myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my Soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease . . . . observing a spear of summer grass. (section 1)

We have no idea at the beginning of the poem just what celebrating "myself" will entail. We're thinking maybe it's like somebody at his own birthday party – a quiet, slightly sad affair. Little do we know that Whitman's celebration is like a party for the entire world, and for America, in particular. He provides a clue when he says that his atoms belong to us, too. That means that our atoms – and everyone else's – belong to him. Also, notice how the soul is a like another person who comes along with him. It is more common to think of the soul as a basic part of one's identity.

Quote #2

They come to me days and nights and go from me again,
But they are not the Me myself.

Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,
Looks down, is erect, bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest,
Looks with its sidecurved head curious what will come next,
Both in and out of the game, and watching and wondering at it. (section 4)

Before this quote, the speaker has been talking about all of the things that take up his time and attention: newspapers, politics, gossip, etc. He's cool with that, but these things do not make up the central element of his personality known as the "Me myself." Like the soul, the "Me myself" is treated as a separate person, one who simultaneously observes and participates in life ("Both in and out of the game").

Quote #3

I believe in you my soul . . . . the other I am must not abase itself to you,
And you must not be abased to the other.

Loafe with me on the grass . . . . loose the stop from your throat,
Not words, not music or rhyme I want . . . . not custom or lecture, not even the best,
Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice. (section 5)

Here the speaker returns to the image of hanging out in the grass with his soul. In a sense, the whole poem takes place while Whitman and his soul are looking at the grass. Whitman tries to get his soul to speak, but the soul speaks only in music, not in words or meaning. We're not sure whether the soul does any of the speaking in this poem, unless perhaps in the background, through sound and rhythm.

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