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O Me! O Life! Summary & Analysis
by Walt Whitman

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Walt Whitman (1819-1892) first published "O Me! O Life!" in the 1867 edition of his famous collection Leaves of Grass. The poem's speaker wonders what the point of living is, when the world is so ugly and broken and nothing ever seems to get better. The speaker gets a surprising "Answer" from a nameless voice that might represent the speaker's own inner wisdom, or even life itself: the fact that life exists at all, this voice replies, is a miracle. The answer to the speaker's despair, this poem suggests, is thus to remember that simply being alive is an awe-inspiring privilege.

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