Apple Takes Whitman To The Masses

Walt WhitmanWalt Whitman was in the news again…

Recently Apple ran an ad for its 30-year anniversary. Oddly, they opted out of debuting it during this year’s Super Bowl. This is odd because they shook up the world when they released their “1984” ad during the game, 30-years prior. But, all these many years later, Apple made another statement — they released their ad on YouTube. A sign of the times? If you haven’t seen the ad it is beautiful, touching and quotes one of American’s greatest poets, Whitman. Watch the ad here.

The poem quoted is “O Me! O Life!” and it is one of my all-time favorites. Few people realize that Whitman wrote this poem soon after Lincoln had been killed, and that he was searching for a way to understand / explain the meaning of the Civil War and the death of a man he greatly admired. But, like any great poem or work of literature, you don’t really need to know all that stuff! The only thing you need to do is read this poem out loud, listening and feeling its flow, meter and meaning. I love this poem! (Did I already write that?) I hang on to the “answer,” and lean on it often. The key to me, in this classic, is the hanging two words in the second-to-last sentence, “and identity,” which many people consider odd. But I consider it a challenge!

O Me! O Life!


Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
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.

About MWycombe

Webmaster for Napa Valley Writers
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