WHEN I read the book, the biography famous,
And is this, then, (said I,) what the author calls a man’s life?
And so will some one, when I am dead and gone, write my life?
(As if any man really knew aught of my life;
Why, even I myself, I often think, know little or nothing of my real life;
Only a few hints-a few diffused, faint clues and indirections,
I seek, for my own use, to trace out here.)

Analysis, meaning and summary of Walt Whitman's poem When I read the Book.


  1. Saphire says:

    This writer is so talented the poem is kind of Ironic because he is talking about another famous person that he’s read his biography and that is what leads him to thimk about his own life and if in the future they might write about what he thinks is a plain life. And look at him now he is one of the best writers of poetry and there is numerous amounts of biographies about him

  2. Dori says:

    To me stories written of your life, are but mire rumors. What he is saying is very honest. Nobody can truly write about someone else unless they are sticking to paper facts about a person, and then where is the personality. People can’t even really write about themselves because who are we really? I can’t say I know the person that I am totally. Cause I learn new things about myself everyday. And if I was to write about myself I’m sure there would be things I would find better left unsaid. But the moment that I leave those things out is the moment that I leave the truth about me.

  3. Bruce says:

    Who knows what a man life is except that man .When one says you dont really know me .it is true only Walt could tell the truth of himself .His secret thougts hopes dreams .Quiet failures which he would never expose to the world .If some one were to write about me from what I left behind ,my friends ,lover,loved ones ,successes ,failures only I could tell the truth noone knows the secret person of the heart better than that person! Walt was right who will write about me and get it right!

  4. Rebekah says:

    Its true what walt is saying, what will become of my memory when I am gone? who will tell all my stories?

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