INSPIRATION: Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself"

So many of us have seen Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” quoted about the Internet, without ever knowing the larger context that it emerges from. We’ve seen those infamous lines, “Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)” But we’re never taught that “Song of Myself” is actually a much much muuuuch longer free verse poem in which Whitman combined transcendentalist, romanticist, and realist thought to create a rather powerful sense of “I” - a self that is both individual and cosmic.

walt whitman song of myself

Although Whitman’s work was critically appraised during its time, socially, conservatives denounced the work as being explicitly sexual in some places. In fact, according to Ezra Greenspan, In 1882, Boston's district attorney threatened action against Leaves of Grass (Whitman’s book in which the poem was originally published) for violating the state’s obscenity laws and demanded that changes be made to several passages from "Song of Myself.”

If there was another version of this poem being read that didn’t sound like a white male robot, I promise I would leave it here for you to listen to - but for now, this is what we’re working with.

But, do yourself the favor and read the full version of Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” here.

And pay attention to these lines where he reminds us we’re not just individuals alone in this world, but interconnected, living experiences that are quite similar to each other.

  • "For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you." (Section 1)

  • "In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barleycorn less/and the good or bad I say of myself I say of them" (Section 20)

  • "It is you talking just as much as myself... I act as the tongue of you" (Section 47)

  • "I am large, I contain multitudes." (Section 51)

And, if you too know that you contain multitudes, admitting you are alive and doing the work of your days (don’t laugh at my terrible paraphrasing), I’d love to help you grow to your next level. If you’re currently looking to build your CAPACITY, COMMUNITY, RESOURCES, SATISFACTION, and GENERAL SENSE OF FREEDOM, then partnered growth strategy might be perfect for you.