0

What is the meaning of "upon me" in the following excerpt of one of Whitman's poems? Dictionaries don't help in this case.

Strong upon me the life that does not exhibit itself, yet contains all the rest,

What I guess is he means "the life that doesn't exhibit itself is strong and sits by me".

0

3 Answers 3

2

Strong upon me the life that does not exhibit itself, yet contains all the rest,

"Strong upon me" is a poetic way of saying that the following condition is deeply concerning. So Whitman is bemoaning that which has not happened in a life lived.

3
  • I don't think he is "bemoaning that which has not happened." If you read the entire poem, it becomes apparent he's talking about the secret life inside him (perhaps his homosexuality) in which he "Resolv'd to sing no songs to-day but those of manly attachment" and so on. At the poem's end he says he means "To tell the secret of my nights and days, / To celebrate the need of comrades."
    – Robusto
    Mar 17, 2020 at 14:34
  • @ Robusto ... I agree with your deep assessment of this. However, this question was asked in English Language and Usage, so my answer was to simply respond to the phrase "Strong upon me" of which as you rightly have noted was his secret life. Bearing that burden and not having the freedom to be open about his publicly un-lived life would weigh heavily on one's mind.
    – Katherine
    Mar 17, 2020 at 15:14
  • 1
    I suspect that "upon me" is a shortened form of "weighs heavily upon me" and thus "strong upon me the life that does not exhibit itself" = the burden of life that does not exhibit itself weighs heavily upon me." (The comparison of problems to burdens is very common in literature.)
    – Greybeard
    Aug 14, 2020 at 9:30
0

Whitman's sentence:

Strong upon me the life that does not exhibit itself, yet contains all the rest.

It can mean, the life that is strong in him. And in the sense that he is using 'life', he means spirit. He uses life in lieu of spirit because he is a poet of the body. So translating it fully:

Strong in me the spirit that does not exhibit itself, yet contains all the rest.

-1

Strong upon me... = a strongly guiding principle for me is ...;

1
  • yes, it could be... Mar 17, 2020 at 0:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.