song of myself, 51 by walt whitman

2021-03-03

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~2 min read

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243 words

Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself” was included in his collection Leaves of Grass. It went through multiple iterations between its first edition (1855) and final version (1891-2). In its final form it consisted of fifty-two sections.1

I’ve been thinking a lot about how complicated we, as humans, are - and how there’s no single definition of who we are. Consequently, section 51 practically jumped off the page when I came across it.

Pretty excited to read the rest of the poem!

51
The past and present wilt—I have fill’d them, emptied them,
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.
>
Listener up there! what have you to confide to me?
Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening,
(Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer.)
>
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
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I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the door-slab.
>
Who has done his day’s work? who will soonest be through with his supper?
Who wishes to walk with me?
>
Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too late?<br/

Footnotes


Hi there and thanks for reading! My name's Stephen. I live in Chicago with my wife, Kate, and dog, Finn. Want more? See about and get in touch!