From the playbill: Introduction to Song of Myself

The argument that Song of Myself makes – that we have more in common than separates us, that the common thing is the nature that courses through us, that we and the nature of which we are a part are carried by a profoundly sexual rhythm – “Urge and urge and urge,” he would write, “always the procreant urge of the world” – that the principle of nature is abundance and variety, that death is as much a part of its rhythm as birth and sexual desire are, that love – which he calls the “kelson of creation” – and sympathy – “I am attesting sympathy,” he writes – “Shall I make my list of things in the house and skip the house that supports them?” – are among the deepest ways that the human imagination connects people to one another and to that larger rhythm, that the body is as important as the soul, that the teeming life of Manhattan and its working people and the immensity and diversity of the American continent embody this nature, and that it is a great leveler and hence a democratic power, and it is a power bound to supersede all previous notions of divinity, and that all this is as common as the grass – this argument is made in the ideas of the poem, in its dazzling and superabundant lists, and in its seriousness and humor and tenderness and moments of melodrama and flashes of tragedy, but also in the sheer range of its language. ...

This poem about democracy and imagination, and what to make of life and death, and about a person’s own wondering experience of his own existence makes its case for our common human imagination by deploying the abundance, variety and hilarity of the languages in which human beings have both described and invented the world in which they find themselves living.