“Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman
From the Favorite Poem Project video archive, here is John Doherty reading “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman. Doherty is a construction worker in Braintree, MA.
“‘Song of Myself’ is a poem that I probably had a lot of difficulty understanding the first time. There were certain lines that caught me and that I liked, and when I got to the very end of this very long poem—that last half-dozen lines are so encouraging. In those last few lines Whitman tells you what you’re thinking. He says, “You probably don’t understand what you just read but stay with it and you will and you’ll love it.” That felt like it was speaking directly to me when I first read it, and I keep those lines in mind no matter what I read now.”
Related: The Favorite Poem Project is dedicated to celebrating, documenting and encouraging poetry’s role in Americans’ lives. Robert Pinsky, the 39th Poet Laureate of the United States, founded the Favorite Poem Project shortly after the Library of Congress appointed him to the post in 1997.