"Logic and sermons never convince,
The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul."
Choosing a favorite couple of lines from "Song of Myself" is difficult; there's so much there in both ideas and presentation that I am forced to choose one of at least six favorites to share. These two lines aren't particularly impressive to me in terms of their language, especially compared to others I might have shared, but what I took to be their meaning really resonated with me.
I see in these lines the clash of powerful institutions, people, and ideas against the convictions of commoners during quiet moments alone--the ways we come to understand the world through experience as opposed to theory. There are important, contentious issues being investigated through science, religion, and various social and political movements, and it is easy to think that if others could be convinced of the rightness of any one approach an individual embraces, that we could finally make some progress together. Logic and sermons can help us make sense of the world and can inspire us, but at the end of the day we still have those damp nights to contend with on our own. We still have physical agonies and feelings of despair that persist in spite of the perspective we try to bring to them. Logic and sermons have their place but are ultimately inadequate to explain or address the power of the difficulties that can overwhelm us.