It's not easy to keep track of exactly who is talking in the poem. We have the guy named "Walt Whitman," but Walt also has a deeper self he calls "Me Myself" or just "Myself." Oh, and then there's his soul, which may or may not be the same thing as "Myself." Confused yet? It's OK. Just remember, there's not a strict separation between all of these personas, but it is important to recognize when the speaker is talking to one or another of these personas, and how they contribute to his idea of an all-encompassing personality.
- Section 1: Whitman personifies a part of his person into someone that he could invite on a nice summer outing. He invites his soul to come look at the grass with him.
- Section 4: He personifies some other part of him called the "Me Myself," who stands "apart" from Whitman's day-to-day activities. Whitman gives this "Me Myself" emotions, gestures, and facial expressions, as if it were another person living inside him.
- Section 5: He addresses his own soul through apostrophe, which is when a speaker talks to something outside the poem. He reminds his soul of an erotic encounter in the grass.
- Section 14: Whitman returns to the personification of this truer idea of himself, the "Me." He says that the "Me" is "nearest" and "easiest" to him.
- Section 16: One of the most common tactics used by Whitman in this poem is identification, where you identify yourself with someone or something else. Except Whitman literally claims he is all of these people, both male and female, Northerner and Southerner (Whitman wrote this poem just before the American Civil War).
- Section 24: How often do you see a poet describing himself using his own name in a poem? Answer: Not very often. The speaker famously compares himself metaphorically to an entire universe or "kosmos."
- Section 25: The speaker personifies his own speech, which is unable to speak.
- Section 28: In the elaborate metaphor of this section, Whitman's sense of touch is a "marauder" that threatens to overpower him. Something inside him is supposed to defend against these marauders, but these guards or "sentries" desert him. Basically, he's under attack from his own erotic feelings.
- Section 44: He claims that his essence has always been present in the universe and always will be. The entire history of the universe has been building toward the moment when he stands on "this spot with my Soul." The soul, again, is like another person.