To You by Walt Whitman

Author of Leaves of Grass and, quite coincidentally along with another great poet Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman was born on May 31st, 1819. He is considered one of the pioneers of American poetry. In this poem, Whitman questions the constraints of life, and leaves out the answers to the readers.

To You


LET us twain walk aside from the rest;
Now we are together privately, do you discard ceremony,
Come! vouchsafe to me what has yet been vouchsafed to none—Tell me the whole story,
Tell me what you would not tell your brother, wife, husband, or physician.

Analysis of Whitman’s “To You”

“To You” is a poem consisting of a single stanza of two lines, which is directed to a stranger in the first-person point of view. The poet does not reveal anything about the stranger in the poem, he only poses a question to the stranger, a rhetoric as to why two absolutely unknown individuals cannot address one another openly.

The poem has a similar tone to the poem “To a Stranger”, where the speaker was curious as to why two people after not having spoken in a while, or ever, for that matter to directly address one another.

Although the poems share almost the same symbolic, “To You” differs from “To a Stranger” in the sense that in the poem in focus, the person the poet’s query is addressed to is utterly vague, while that of the referred poem is directed to a more specific stranger.

Although the poem simply is regarding two strangers walking by each other on the street, Whitman wanted to give a unique illustration to diminish the gap between the speaker and the audience.

What gives the poem a unique touch is the name itself. The name of the poem depicts how the speaker Walter Whitman is speaking directly to you, the reader. Whitman believes that humans are all connected to one another in one way or the other and thus should be able to communicate between each and every one.

The poet shows his deep sorrow in expressing the fact that in real life, it simply does not happen, maybe because of social constraints or because of an innate pattern in human behavior. The poet has left the answers to his questions to the readers, which constructs the whole poem, of two lines which neither rhymes or meter.

The poet uses simple diction, meaning, the questions he asked over a hundred years ago are very easy to ask, but is yet to be answered.