| Quote #1
The atmosphere is not a perfume . . . . it has no taste of the distillation . . . . it is odorless,
The smoke of my own breath,
Sex is both a metaphor and not a metaphor in "Song of Myself." You have to be careful about interpreting passages like this one. This passage is clearly erotic and expresses sexual desire, but it does not discuss specific acts of sex. Whitman rarely does. Instead, sexuality is a means of joining to the world. The world is charged with sexuality: "loveroot, silkthread, crotch and vine."
| Quote #2
I mind how we lay in June, such a transparent summer morning;
Here, again, he describes sex that's not really sex. Yes, he gets naked with his soul and their bodies join, but the passage is mystical, mysterious, and symbolic. Whitman's poetry has sometimes been called "autoerotic," because he is fascinated by his own sexuality as much as by other people's.
| Quote #3
Smile O voluptuous coolbreathed earth!
Prodigal! you have given me love! . . . . therefore I to you give love!
Thruster holding me tight and that I hold tight!
The last lines of this section were controversial in Whitman's day, and he removed them in later versions of "Song of Myself." He compares his relationship to the earth with two newly weds in sexual union. He is the romantic "lover" of the world.