Usually you got to hit someone with a brick for them to read some poetry, but it’s less difficult if the poem is being read to you by Robin Williams in an Apple ad. Overreaching? Yes. Hyperbolic? Yes. Apple is showing a penchant for ads that tug at the heartstrings and wax lyrical about inspiration and beauty and romance and adventure. But it’s also a little difficult to argue against these very same transformative effects that Apple has had on our culture.
I wish Walt Whitman (and poetry) is not being used to sell tablets and Levi jeans, but if it means more people reading Walt Whitman… (what of the other poets, anyway? What, they don’t write stirring verses that exhort you to stare life in the face and live it?)
Here’s the full poem, O Me! O Life!
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?Answer.That you are here—that life exists and identity,That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.