O Me! O Life! Walt Whitman

O Me! O Life!
Walt Whitman
Nick Huffman
Clare Parkinson
Characteristics of Transcendentalism
Self reliance
Forget the past
Love of the Noble Savage
Live in the moment
Seize the day
All in all, be the best individual, self reliant, lifeloving, humble, and sound person that you can
O Me! O Life!
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these
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.
Title: the title insinuates that the author is being afflicted by the life that they live
Paraphrase: He searches for the answers to the questions of life and so do the
foolish crowds of people, but the true answer is that life exists and Connotation:
Nobody can find the meaning in life because they look too greedily into the past
or the future, but the true purpose of one’s life is to live in the moment and seize
the day, because life is to short to be looking back
Attitude: Exhausted, and worn out by this trifling question. Exaggerating words,
like endless, never, all , or useless, add to the desperation and overall pessimistic
outlook on life expresses in the first seven lines. Once the poem shifts to the
“Answer” the attitude of the poem suddenly contains hope.
Shifts: After line 8, when he states the answer to the question
Title: The author is ‘quoting’ the question of those who cannot solve the puzzle to
their life, that they are so perplexed by it that they cry out
Theme: No matter the trials we go through in life, losing faith in humanity and
ourselves, life still exists and in itself is enough. The very fact of existing gives one
identity and a part in life.
Transcendental Characteristics
• Seize the day: “That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a
verse.” because a day wasted is a lifetime of experiences not
• Live in the moment: “that you are here…” because searching
for a meaning in life is wasting it
• Forget the past: because that is what causes the people in the
“sordid crowds” to be lost in their own mind
The idea that one should seize the day, live in
the moment, and forget the past are not ideals
that are expressed in today’s society. People are
continually wandering around, searching for a
meaning in life. “The objects mean” are still put
in an idle light and craved by the majority of our
materialistic society.

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