What things does the speaker of "Song of Myself" describe as "not the Me myself"? What does it mean that things "come to me days & nights"?

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aidand747 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Often described as the great American poem, "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman is a lengthy free-verse poem that seeks to explore and understand the idea of the self existing in a modern world. In section four of the poem, Whitman lists a series of entities and events that he claims are "not the Me of myself." These subjects include the following, pulled directly from the poem itself:

Trippers and askers surround me,
People I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward
     and city I live in, or the nation,
The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors
     old and new,
My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues,
The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I
The sickness of one of my folks or of myself, or ill-doing or
     loss or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations,
Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful
     news, the fitful events;

While this is a very broad list of things, they all share one similarity, which is the fact that they are all things that exist outside of the speaker. The trippers and the askers surround him, but they are not him, just as the people he meets, the prominent figures of the era, the dispositions of others all may affect him, but they do not represent who he is as a person. The speaker instead seems to consider himself as a fixed being, shifting from moment to moment and existing independently of the past, present, and future. Such trivial matters as the dinner and dress of his associates are of no matter to him. When the speaker says, "these come to me day and night," he is drawing attention to this inevitable and unstoppable passage of time that the all-powerful self has transcended. 

huntress eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This question comes from Section 4 of "Song of Myself," where Whitman talks about the petty concerns of everyday life. The things that are "not the Me myself" are the "trippers and askers" who surround him (those who ask a lot of questions and try to trip him up in his logic), the people he meets, his early life and how it makes him who he is now, all the latest news ("dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors old and new"), even such random things as what he eats for dinner and what he wears, who he associates with, whether some woman or man whom he loves loves him back, whether anyone is sick, emotional ups and downs ("depressions or exaltations"), lack of money, battles and wars and attendant horrors, and the anxiety of "doubtful news." 

These come to me days and nights and go from me again,
But they are not the Me myself.

These, in other words, are all part of his days and nights, but they don't really matter. They are the little things in life, not worth worrying over. The are not the real "Me." His real Me is the one who stands apart from all this and watches. While he watches, he is "amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary." That is, he doesn't pass judgment. He watches and learns and cares and laughs, but he doesn't pass judgment. Life is what it is. He does not mock or argue: he watches and waits. 

Whitman has several selves, and this "Me" is the one who is almost godlike it its patience and distance from the petty concerns of day to day life. 


corinnedolci eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In section IV of "Song of Myself," Whitman lists a sequence of items that seem to be of variable import, such as: "people I meet," "my dinner," "the sickness of one of my folks or of myself," and the "horrors of fratricidal war."

He then concludes the stanza by saying, "But they are not the Me myself."

"Song of Myself" is a celebration of the interconnectedness of all things in society from the glorious to the mundane. Consider the last line of the first stanza: "for every atom belonging to me as good as belongs to you." Here, Whitman works through the distinction between himself and the larger world around him. He defines an entity within him, "Me," that is not the same as "myself." In creating "Me," Whitman points to an inner place of calm or solace that is unaffected by the world around him and which he defines as part of himself.

When he says that "they come to me days and nights," it means that these thoughts, or experiences from the wider world, rise in his mind but soon pass. In other words, he is unaffected by them.