What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me,

Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns,

Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first that will take me,

Not asking the sky to come down to my good will,

Scattering it freely forever.

From Song of Myself By Walt Whitman.

I just feel that it means "I bet on my chances, so I expect the vast returns for this spending". Am I right?


According to Eric Forsythe:

Whitman counsels a kind of profligacy here, a “spending for vast returns,” an endless bestowing of himself “on the first that will take me,” looking always to “scatter” himself “freely forever.” Whatever he has, he will give, taking the chance that by giving himself to everything around him, the surrounding world will shower him with “vast” and endlessly unexpected “returns.”

I can't help but notice the sexual connotations in this line, though. As M. Wynn Thomas writes in The Lunar Light of Whitman's Poetry:

"Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns" is a sentence particularly worth returning to. "Spend" was at this time the popular term for reaching orgasm, and in his brilliant essay "The Spermatic Economy," G. J. Barker-Benfield has examined in dazzling detail the interconnections between sexuality and economics in the thinking of American capitalist society during this period.

  1. Whitmanweb

  2. The Lunar Light of Whitman's Poetry

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