Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.
What makes the poem so interesting is that it is consistently paradoxical. You have to embrace the paradox. (“Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself. / I am large, I contain multitudes.”) If you don’t respond to one thing, you should stray to find another idea, and somewhere you will find yourself (and Whitman). There is a certain generosity of spirit, an inclusiveness and expansiveness that points the way toward the experimentation of modern poetry.
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