In this poem, Walt Whitman uses verse to put forward the idea of universal connectivity. He talks about a stranger, being exceedingly vague in his description of the person. He leaves the complete identity, right down to the gender of the stranger, ambiguous and open to interpretation, hence effectively widening its scope to encompass all of humanity.
Something about the stranger strikes a spark of remembrance in Whitman, who is suddenly overcome with a sense of vague nostalgia. He proclaims that his path has undoubtedly crossed that of the strangers before, a long time ago in a previous life. He recounts fondly the wisps of a memory that he is able to recollect, of a time where his and the strangers lives have intertwined. According to Whitman, in the haze of a memory, he relives the time when he and this stranger had been inseparable, recalling affectionately how they had grown together, from boys to men, having shared beds, food and milestones throughout that life.
He muses on the absurdity and misfortune of social norms which prevents two willing strangers from interacting with each other. Due to this unwritten manifesto of society, Whitman knows that it is not in his destiny to approach the stranger, who was once his better half and is left with the comfort of reminiscing their journey together in solitude.