Summary and Analysis: Inscriptions To You


Whitman tells the stranger that if their paths cross they should communicate with each other: "Why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?"

This poem is only two lines long but it is significant in the way it deals with the relationship between the poet and the reader. A late (1881) addition to Leaves of Grass, it deals with the problems of communication and understanding between the artist and his audience, the author and the reading public — and between people in general. Whitman believes that all men are related — if strangers want to communicate, they should not let artificial barriers stop them.