Trippers and askers surround me,
People I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward
and city I live in, or the nation,
The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors
old and new,
My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues,
The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I
The sickness of one of my folks or of myself, or ill-doing or
loss or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations,
Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful
news, the fitful events;
These come to me days and nights and go from me again,
But they are not the Me myself.
Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle,
Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable
Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next,
Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering
I’ve been struggling whether or not to comment on this, and why it’s so absolutely apt for me today because, as Whitman says earlier in the poem “to elaborate is to no avail”. But, paradoxically, the entirety of “Song of Myself” is an elaboration (not to mention full of paradox). It is an attempt to touch the invisible, and sing.
So I’ll just say that what I needed to today was praise – to “celebrate myself, and sing myself”. Nothing extraordinary has happened to me lately – just life, really – but today I felt so strongly that the efforts and struggles of a simple life needed praise – just “the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun”. Sometimes, that’s the simplest yet most profound thing anyone does in a day.