Study Guide

Song of Myself Section 26

By Walt Whitman

Section 26

  • Whitman says that he doesn't want to speak at all, he wants to listen and build himself from the sounds he hears.
  • This gives him an excuse to make yet another list. This time it's a list of sounds, starting with natural sounds and quickly moving to different kinds of human voices.
  • He hears happy voices and sad voices, strict voices and tender voices.
  • The voices are like musical instruments, and together they make a chorus or symphony.
  • The "orchestra" of all these sounds takes him to the outer reaches of the universe and to the brink of death.
  • In the end, he just feels puzzled by reality.
  • Maybe it's appropriate that the heart of this poem is dedicated to exploring the innermost mysteries of the universe – no one ever accused Whitman of lacking ambition.