Oh Me! Oh Life!
Oh me! O life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless traines of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the
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
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.
by Walt Whitman
You may remember this poem from the movie the Dead Poets Society. In my opinion, it deserves to be read in its entirety. This poem comes to my mind often.
If you want to read a great book about Walt Whitman, look into The Better Angel by Roy Morris, Jr. It chronicles his work in the tent hospitals of Civil War Washington, DC. Had he lived today, I believe he would have been nominated for major humanitarian awards.