Homework Help

What is the main theme of the poem "O Me! O Life"?

user profile pic

pinkypixy | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 14, 2011 at 9:22 AM via web

dislike 1 like

What is the main theme of the poem "O Me! O Life"?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 14, 2011 at 2:49 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 5 like

The essential idea is that no matter how miserable the world seems (cities filled with the foolish) and no matter how disappointed you are with yourself (of myself forever reproaching myself), and despite the seemingly futile struggle (poor results of all), life is still worth living. By the end of the first stanza, the speaker is in complete despair. O me o life is similar to Hamlet’s “to be or not to be” speech. The question is “what is the point of living if everything seems so terrible.”

The answer is a very concise way of stating the point or the meaning of life which is life itself. That sounds tautological (redundant) but that is the point. Even in the darkest hour, at the bleakest times in history, life still exists and history goes on. There is hope in that basic certainty. This poem is a celebration of life itself; at the same time, it suggests that struggle is a part of life and there is meaning to be found through struggle and that simply by being alive, you have inherent power and potential to contribute to the history of your and all (universal) life.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes