Welcome to this month’s “A Favorite Poem” issue, in which I share my current favorite poem with you. In honor of Pride Month (happening this entire June), I would like to share a LGBT-related poem from one of the greatest Romantic poets in history: Walt Whitman.
Among the Multitude (Walt Whitman)
Among the men and women, the multitude,
I perceive one picking me out by secret and divine signs,
Acknowledging none else—not parent, wife, husband, brother, child,
any nearer than I am;
Some are baffled—But that one is not—that one knows me.
Ah, lover and perfect equal!
I meant that you should discover me so, by my faint indirections;
And I, when I meet you, mean to discover you by the like in you.
Although it’s a short poem, it’s still a beautiful piece that, despite the gender ambiguity of the lover, showcases that it doesn’t matter the gender of the individual whom you love, but rather one who knows and understands you, knows your “secret and divine signs” that makes it worth it “to discover [them] by the like in [them].”
In addition, the fact that Whitman starts off the poem with “among the men and women” is a subtle, but notable commentary on the acceptance of loving any gender. Whether one is gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, etc., it makes no difference: what’s important is that the other is the “perfect equal” with whom you can cherish a life together.
As it’s been widely speculated by scholars, Whitman has been considered gay or bisexual, since many of his poems have been interpreted to be homoerotic. Whether or not it’s true, his works nevertheless have given the LGBT community a reason to show that, even in history, homosexuality has been part of the norm, and something to be accepted in society. “Among the Multitude” is a great reminder, then, of people who are unapologetic about being themselves, unapologetic about whom they love. That, in my opinion, is all that counts.
Give this poem a read, and have a good rest of Pride Month!
— The Finicky Cynic
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