WE two boys together clinging,
One the other never leaving,
Up and down the roads going—North and South excursions making,
Power enjoying—elbows stretching—fingers clutching,
Arm’d and fearless—eating, drinking, sleeping, loving,
No law less than ourselves owning—sailing, soldiering, thieving, threatening,
Misers, menials, priests alarming—air breathing, water drinking, on the turf or the
sea-beach
dancing,
Cities wrenching, ease scorning, statutes mocking, feebleness chasing,
Fulfilling our foray.

Analysis, meaning and summary of the poem by

11 Comments

  1. scooternyc says:

    an idiot. A troglodite. I hope he has no kids.

  2. Taylore says:

    While I understand this heated debate on what Whitman, himself, was thinking while writing this poem, isn’t it true that poetry, and all forms of writing, are personal? Isn’t writing about the reader and what he/she gains from what they read? Nevermind what the author was thinking, it’s about what YOU get out of it. Otherwise, writing would not be published.

  3. Taylore says:

    While I understand this heated debate on what Whitman, himself, was thinking while writing this poem, isn’t it true that poetry, and all forms of writing, are personal? Isn’t writing about the reader and what he/she gains from what they read? Nevermind what the author was thinking, it’s about what YOU get out of it. Otherwise, writing would not be published.

  4. Sammie says:

    What is the theme of this poem. I am doind a project for school and I do not know what the theme is and what he is portraying! Please, reply to me!

  5. Melissa says:

    Couldn’t it be about his brother, Jeff? He and his brother traveled to New Orleans together, and it took them a few months to get there. Although Walt Whitman was homosexual, this was the first thing that came to my mind.

  6. holly says:

    i love this poem. regardless of “sexuality” issues, it is agreat poem. it saddens me though that some people would be so arrogent about it. walt whitman was a AMAZING writer! and definitly an insperation.

    now in terms of sexuality. he is still amazing. to have done what he did in the time he was alive would have taken much courage and i know he still inspires people in that way to this day.

    so i must say i definitly understand this poem and i most certainly love it. it touches bases.

  7. Joey says:

    David Grimes, you really shouldn’t comment on things about which you have little understanding, especially in such an insulting way. I can’t help but wonder why on earth when someone suggested it regarded gay love you assumed that they meant it was inherently sexual. Gay relationships can be loving and are not just about sex, despite what your assumptions about them are.

    The majority of scholars studying Whitman are generally agreed that he did have homosexual tendencies, despite having to hide them from a deeply homophobic society. They draw their conclusions through scrutiny of his works, looking closely at the Calamus poems and his opinions on ‘amative’ (heterosexual) love and ‘adhesive’ (homosexual love).

    His work contradicts his outward expressions regarding homosexuality. In public he denounced it, but through his poetry he revealed and admiration for the ideals of male friendship and even went as far as to describe acts of masturbation.

    The beloved character in his poem ‘Once I Pass’d Through A Populous City’ is known to have been changed from a male to a female prior to publication.

    During the 1970’s Whitman was made the poster child of the gay liberation movement for his bravery on the subject through his art and his love of the working class man. It isn’t disputed whether or not he was romantically attracted to other men, though it is unknown whether he acted upon those feelings in a sexual manner.

    Given the fact that close friendships between comrades during the civil war in virginia sometimes did reach a romantic level one can safely assume that this poem does touch upon the theme of gay sentiments.

    Think before you comment next time you insulting, arrogant boy.

  8. Heather says:

    Now that’s just NASTY!

  9. David Grimes says:

    Maybe, maybe not. The thing is, even if Whitman was gay, this poem in particular is not about homosexuality or it would be titled “We Two Boys Together $*#&ing.”

    Let’s forget all that we know about behavior for a moment. Let’s forget that putting your hands backwards on your hips or swishing when you walk is supposed to be effeminate. And remember that WE define (on a daily basis) what words, postures, pronunciations, manners are “normal,” “gay,” “serious,” “rude,” et cetera In the Middle East, men hold hands and kiss each other and it is not in a sexual context. One hundred years ago, women would wear garments that constricted their breathing and caused health problems, because those were the social norms. Imagine what we will be doing a hundred years from now. Will we look back on our contemporary writing and just assume that everyone was gay?

    Hey, sometimes a spade is a spade. Sometimes we read a passage and think, “hey, is this veiled language? Is the writer talking about… THAT?” And sometimes he is. But Whitman’s writing makes you think that a LOT. Look at “Ashes of Soldiers,” (which by our standards sounds a whole lot like a passionate love letter to beautiful dead soldiers) or “Pensive on Her Dead…” where he talks about the dead “young men’s beautiful bodies.” I don’t think he’s being sexually attracted here, but rather he is using exquisite language; words that, yes, in our day and age raise some eyebrows and set off some gay-dars.

    But do not judge behavior or writing based on your own values or point of view. Though it is often right, it will often be wrong, and it will ALWAYS certainly betray an ignorance of the observed behavior or writing.

  10. Cyndy Morgan says:

    I do not know much biographical data about Walt Whitman, but I think that to assume that this poem is about homosexuality might be a mistake. Just as David and Jonathan of Bible fame loved one another and were lifelong platonic friends, so Whitman may have been writing about such a friendship. In modern times, no one would write this way about a male friendship. Homosexuality would be assumed. But, in the 19th century, such assumptions wouldn’t have been made by the reader.

  11. Paul Pierce says:

    This poem has a double meaning. First and obvious is that the poem is describing two gay boys, as well as two boys that are close friends during the time of the Civil War. The first meaning was very bold for that time cosidering that homosexuality was shunned upon. Intersting!

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