Among the Multitude

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“Among the Multitude,” by Walt Whitman, conveys the narrator's desire to be loved by someone equal to him, from within the large crowd of people. Because the narrator is among a multitude of people, only one identifies with him on equal grounds—himself. The theme of the poem is that the perfect romance for any person is self-love. Among the crowd of people, he searches for the one to understand him, which is only he. Written in free verse, with no particular rhyme scheme or rhythm, this poem reflects Whitman's poetic style.

How can the unnamed character in “Among the Multitude” be himself? “Among the men and women, the multitude,/I perceive one picking me out by secret and divine signs” (1-2) “Divine,” meaning something regarded as holy, implies the special relationship with the unnamed character. In the third and fourth line, by stating that the character is putting him before family, who are important to a person's life, proves the intimate relationship with himself. Finally, in the last line of stanza one, “those which are baffled” refers to the crowd around him—whereas “but that one is not--that one knows me” (5) meaning among all of the people surrounding the speaker, he is the only one who knows himself. That is self-love.

Stanza two features a shift. In line 6, “Ah, lover and perfect equal!” changes the tone from slow and romantic to exciting. The two stanzas contrast: in stanza one, the narrator describes the unnamed character focusing on him. In stanza two, the narrator focuses on the unnamed character and his adoration towards himself. Because the unnamed character is the speaker himself, perhaps he has come to realize only he is the one equal to himself. Line 7 references line 2, with “I meant that you should discover me so, by my faint indirections,” “Faint indirections” is close to “secret signs,” which the unnamed character was doing earlier. However, the last line is closure to the poem. The speaker admits that he has not fully discovered...
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