Walt Whitman Questions and Answers

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What are some of the poetic techniques used in the poem "O me! O life!" ?

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This poem from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass employs a number of identifiable literary devices to convey its message. When analyzing a poem, it can be illustrative to look at the title first. The title of this poem, "O Me! O Life!" is an example of apostrophe, an address to someone or something not present (in this case, to Life, but also to whatever deeper part of "me" the poet is reaching towards). Apostrophe is often indicated by the use of the vocative "O." Interestingly, Whitman repeats this phrase twice in the poem, but uses different punctuation on each occasion. This draws the reader's attention: how is "Oh me! Oh life!" different to "O me, o life?" or the isolated "O me!" towards the end of the poem?

When we see "oh" rather than "O," the phrase appears less of an apostrophe and more of a sighing aside; "O me!" is more intense, and finally, "What good...

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