I Sing the Body Elected

As everyone knows, President Clinton gave ex-intern Monica Lewinsky an inscribed copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. And a fine gift it is–Chatterbox frequently gives this very volume to women with whom it is not having sexual relations. But perhaps the book contained some deeper, more personal meaning to the president or Ms. Lewinsky. Slate’s crack panel of Whitman scholars has convened in emergency session to draw our attention (and that of the Independent Counsel) to the following passages:

ARE you the new person drawn toward me?
    To begin with, take warning–I am surely far
        different from what you suppose;
    Do you suppose you will find in me your ideal?
    Do you think it so easy to have me become your
    Do you think the friendship of me would be
        unalloy’d satisfaction?
    Do you think I am trusty and faithful?
    Do you see no further than this facade–this smooth
        and tolerant manner of me?
    Do you suppose yourself advancing on real ground
        toward a real heroic man?
    Have you no thought, O dreamer, that it may be all
        maya, illusion?

–from “Are You the New person, drawn toward Me”

Only what proves itself to every man and woman is so;
    Only what nobody denies is so.

–from “Walt Whitman”

I pour the stuff to start sons and daughters fit for
        These States–I press with slow rude muscle,
    I brace myself effectually–I listen to no entreaties,
    I dare not withdraw till I deposit what has so long
        accumulated within me,
Through you I drain the pent-up rivers of myself,

–from “A Woman Waits for Me”

Do I contradict myself?
    Very well, then, I contradict myself;

–from “Walt Whitman”