O LIVING always—always dying!
O the burials of me, past and present!
O me, while I stride ahead, material, visible, imperious as ever!
O me, what I was for years, now dead, (I lament not—I am content;)
O to disengage myself from those corpses of me, which I turn and look at, where I cast
To pass on, (O living! always living!) and leave the corpses behind!

Analysis, meaning and summary of Walt Whitman's poem O Living Always—Always Dying.


  1. Asterik says:

    I agree with Sue. Are we the same person we are now than we were even ten minutes ago? Always learning, always growing, and always leaving our corpses behind.

  2. H.D. says:

    I think Whitman is still talking about the civil war. I don’t think he ever got over all of the deaths. It seems to me he is talking in place of all of the soldiers who risked their lives.

  3. C. says:

    He writes of my life. Of your life. Of anyone who has ever really lived. In order for us to grow as individuals, we must shed den skin of our past, leave behind corpses, so that we may go on til flourish in a new life within our life. What Whitman writes of is the millions af small, minute deaths we will die everyday, before ve make our grand final exit(death-as society acknowledges it).

  4. sue says:

    I think maybe it’s the corpses of who he was in his life, like the person he once was has died and he is emerging as someone new. It’s like, I am not the same person as I was 10 years ago… that person is dead and here I remain.

  5. heather says:

    i took this poem as meaning all the deaths he had encountered in his life. leaving behind all his friends and loved ones. perhaps he had a lot of guilt over their deaths. in order to live he had to let them die. however i like Nalani’s take on this.

  6. Nalani says:

    When he said he was going to “leave the corpses behind”, i took it, (and the whole poem) to mean that the other side of himself that was bring him down to his death, he is going to leave that behind so he can live.

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