contain multitudes



From the American poet Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself".


contain multitudes

  1. (idiomatic) To have a complex and apparently paradoxical nature, to be inconsistent, especially in a way that is ultimately noble or admirable.
    • 1855, Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself".
      Do I contradict myself?
      Very well then I contradict myself,
      (I am large, I contain multitudes.)
    • 1970, Bernard Benstock, Sean O'Casey.
      "Mirror in My House is both a portrait of the artist (O'Casey himself) and a portrait of an artist (a fictional John-Johnny-Sean Casside who contains multitudes), yet it is the unrelenting single vision of a particular personality with a fixed point of view."
    • 1996, Richard Taruskin, Stravinsky and the Russian Traditions.
      "Diaghilev would show Europe that Russia was large and contained multitudes: multitudes of social classes and occupations, and multitudes of indigenous musical styles, not all of them "Asiatic" or peasant."
    • 2020, January 28, Lindsey Sullivan, "Watch Les Miz Tour Javert Preston Truman Boyd's Luminous Performance of 'Stars'".
      "In taking on this new role, Boyd had learned that Les Miz's "bad guy" contains multitudes--not unlike the stars he sings about."