I saw in Louisiana a Live Oak Growing.

I SAW in Louisiana a live-oak growing,
All alone stood it, and the moss hung down from the branches;
Without any companion it grew there, uttering joyous leaves of dark green,
And its look, rude, unbending, lusty, made me think of myself;
But I wonder’d how it could utter joyous leaves, standing alone there, without its
friend,
its
lover near—for I knew I could not;
And I broke off a twig with a certain number of leaves upon it, and twined around it a
little
moss,
And brought it away—and I have placed it in sight in my room;
It is not needed to remind me as of my own dear friends,
(For I believe lately I think of little else than of them;)
Yet it remains to me a curious token—it makes me think of manly love;
For all that, and though the live-oak glistens there in Louisiana, solitary, in a wide
flat
space,
Uttering joyous leaves all its life, without a friend, a lover, near,
I know very well I could not.

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5 Comments

  1. Caitlin says:

    I think this poem may have some hidden meaning. The poem possibly hints at his longing for his male partner. “Yet it remains…it makes me think of manly love;”

  2. Sharh11 says:

    I can instantly relate to WW. I watch elderly, single people all day and wonder how they could go on without a dear friend/companion. I do go on but I am not strong and boasting like these oaks. We are all growing and some without aching loneliness. However, that’s not me.

  3. Debbie says:

    I think he is thinking of friends that he misses and how lonely he feels and realizes that he needs friends to be happy. Unlike the tree that has all it needs in itself.

  4. Joel says:

    I think that Whitman is saying that in spite of the opposition that he was facing as a poet, he was still continuing to grow.

  5. Reed says:

    I think this poem is really about the respect he has for the tree to go on living without “a friend, a lover near” and I wonder if he was talking of the slaves he saw when he was working in New Orleans

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