By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)
One of the shortest of Walt Whitman’s great poems, ‘O Me! O Life!’ was featured in the 1989 film Dead Poets Society: Robin Williams’s character recites it to his class. ‘O Me! O Life!’ contains many of the features of Walt Whitman’s greatest poetry: the free verse rhythm, the alternation between long and short lines, the rhetorical (or not-so-rhetorical?) questions, the focus on the self.
Before we offer a fuller analysis of the poem, here’s a reminder of ‘O Me! O Life!’.