An undeniable and beloved classic of American poetry, “Song of Myself” was originally published as part of Leaves of Grass, with Whitman expanding, revising, and editing it in subsequent editions for much of his life. Here, Stephen Mitchell has gone back to the first edition, only substituting revisions from later editions that express the original vision and clarity of the piece.
Tangling with themes of the self, nature, and one’s place in the universe, Whitman’s labor of language comes again and again to a simple yet astonishing conclusion—“I contain multitudes”—that everything, even the smallest, most seemingly insignificant blade of grass and tiny ant have inside them the infinite universe.
This is Whitman at his most wild and raw, as large and lusty as life, fulfilling his promise to all future generations:
"I too am not a bit tamed . . . . I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world."