What is the overall message of Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself"?

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huntress | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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It isn't just the problems he can and does connect with, it's all people in all situations. He moves beyond sympathy--feelings for other people--to empathy--sharing the feelings of others. It's more than that, though: he sees his empathy and the bounds of his own experience as virtually limitless, going into the very heavens, "Speeding through space, speeding through heaven and the stars, / Speeding amid the seven satellites and the broad ring, and the diameter of eighty thousand miles, / Speeding with tail’d meteors, throwing fire-balls like the rest." 

His overall message goes back to "What I guess’d when I loaf’d on the grass." That is: 

Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,)
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self. (II)
He believes we are part of the soil, the water, and the air we are comprised of, and thus should be in complete harmony with it. As a part of the world, we should feel, we should be what all people, animals, and plants are. He speaks of what he sees and experiences through others, and suggests, as the poem began, that "
what I assume you shall assume, / For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you." 
 
This poem isn't just his empathy for all things and all that is: it is about how we should share it to make the world a better place. 

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