Posts Tagged ‘19th Century Poetry’

Today I thought I would share this wonderful poem by Walt Whitman, “O me! O life”. It is in his collection of poems Leaves of Grass, a volume that was first published in 1855 and included just twelve poems. But, Whitman revised and added poems to this volume throughout his life, so the final version of the collection, published in 1892, the year of his death, is very different from the first edition with over 400 poems!

Walt Whitman (18xx-18xx) published "Oh me, oh life" in xxxx.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was an American poet, whose main collection of poetry is “Leaves of Grass”. This poem, “O me! O life!” appears in that collection.

I have blogged previously about a Walt Whitman poem, namely “O Captain! My Captain!”, a poem about Abraham Lincoln. This poem , “O me! O life!” is much shorter, and more direct.

O me! O life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?


That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

In the inspirational movie Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams’ character uses this poem to explain to his students why the human race reads and writes poetry.

Which is your favourite Walt Whitman poem?

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