This week’s Whitman poem is called “Me Imperturbe.” I really liked this poem, so without further ado, let’s dive in.
Me imperturbe, standing at ease in Nature, Master of all or mistress of all, aplomb in the midst of irrational things, Imbued as they, passive, receptive, silent as they, Finding my occupation, poverty, notoriety, foibles, crimes, less important than I thought, Me toward the Mexican sea, or in the Mannahattan or the Tennessee, or far north or inland, A river man, or a man of the woods or of any farm-life of these States or of the coast, or the lakes or Kanada, Me wherever my life is lived, O to be self-balanced for contingencies, To confront night, storms, hunger, ridicule, accidents, rebuffs, as the trees and animals do.
To me, this poem is exulting the Natural world. I imagine Whitman shedding his skin and floating down the Mississippi River rejoicing in nature. To Whitman, the man-made problems are entirely avoidable and useless products of our capitalist society, while the natural problems of storms and hunger are “true” issues that all flora and fauna face — we are all equal and in the same struggle in nature. I don’t think this poem is meant to be demeaning of very real issues in our lives (like poverty and crime rates, etc.). Instead, I think Whitman is gently reminding us to get outside of our own minds and look at the bigger picture. I found this poem both refreshing and freeing. This poem has inspired me to try to enjoy nature this week. Maybe I’ll take off my headphones while I walk through Central Park on my way home tonight.
As always, I invite you to join me. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or send me a link to your own #WhitmanWednesday posts and I’ll share them as well!