Song of the Open Road by Walt Whitman

About the Poet

Walt Whitman was a poet, essayist, and journalist from the United States. He is generally referred to as the “Father of Free Verse.” He was born in 1819 on Long Island and grew up in New York. He had minimal formal education, but he considered himself a lifelong student. Whitman died of a stroke in 1892, at the age of 72. His noteworthy literary achievements include the poem ‘O’ Captain, My Captain’ and the poetry collection ‘Leaves of Grass.’


Introduction

Walt Whitman’s poem Song of the Open Road is from the collection “Leaves of Grass.” It is a free verse poem in the form of a poet’s monologue.

The poet wishes to convey his unfiltered ideas as he travels down many roads in life. The lines are not rhymed and vary in length, illustrating the intricacies and ups and downs of life. Additionally, it reflects the poet’s inner yearning to live life to the utmost extent possible, free of tensions and concerns.

It is a narrative poem. This poem is a self-indulgent ode.


Summary/ Paraphrase


The poem opens with the poet walking on the open road. The road in this context refers to the road of life. He shares his joy at embarking on this trip in this healthy and free world. Furthermore, the poet has control over the journey because he is free to travel the brown route anywhere he wants.

The poet then continues his earlier ideas by expressing that he does not pray for good fortune and considers himself to be the maker of his own fortune. He goes on to say that he will not cry or hesitate to accomplish anything without postponing it and that he asks nothing in return. He is no longer content to be bound within the four walls. He is strong and content enough to travel on the open road now that he has freed himself from various grievances and arguments from his previous life.

The poet attempts to separate himself from earthly pleasures and relationships in the following verses.

Even though he has great faith in them and knows that they are doing well and happy with them, he no longer enjoys socialising with friends and other people because he believes that the mother earth is now sufficient for him to travel.

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Analysis of the poem

The poem begins with the poet’s journey down an open road on foot. The road here refers to the path of life. He expresses his joy at the prospect of embarking on the adventure in this healthy and free world. Additionally, the poet has control over the voyage because he is free to travel any brown road he wishes. Following that, the poet continues his earlier thoughts by stating that he does not want good fortune and views himself as the maker of his own fortune. He continues by stating that he will not cry or hesitate to act without postponing anything and anticipates nothing. He feels dissatisfied with his confinement within the four walls. He is strong and content enough to travel on the open road after resolving various concerns and quarrels in his previous life. The poet then attempts to liberate himself from earthly pleasures and relationships in the following lines. Even though he has a great deal of faith in them and is confident that they are doing well and pleased with them, he no longer enjoys engaging with friends and other people because he believes that mother earth is now sufficient for him to travel.
         
The poem is written in a concise and powerful style that is simple to comprehend. There is no rhyme scheme or metre in this poem because it is written in free verse. The lines and stanzas are not equal in length. It is divided into four stanzas. The first stanza comprises only three lines, whereas the last two contain four. In the final stanzas, the poet employs parenthesis to detach himself from worldly concerns. ‘Light-hearted’ and ‘querulous criticisms’ are intriguing terms. Notable images include constellations and earthy hues. Alliteration, Metaphor, Repetition, and Paradox are all striking figures of speech.

Theme

This poem’s major themes include liberty, the joy of living a free life, and optimism. The poet encourages readers throughout the poem to be true to themselves and to live a free and enjoyable life. Although his life is not without commitments and difficulties, he urges everyone to pursue their objectives regardless of the barriers.

It instils in us optimism and a sense of well-being. Everything is available to us, including liberty and opportunity. It motivates us to live on a healthy and free planet. It serves as a catalyst for us to fill our hearts with enormous pleasure.

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Title of the Poem

The title of the poem is noteworthy because Whitman uses the term ‘Song’ with a specific aim in mind: he enjoys travelling on the open road without any tension or worry about the past, present, or future, and facing life without any complaints about his life. With his own will and goodness, the poet strives to advance on the path of life.

The poem ‘Song of the Open Road’ also refers to freedom.

Questions and Answers

Ice Breakers

A) Choose the mode of travel that you would like the most for a journey.

(a)Airways

(b)Waterways   

(c)Railways        

(d)Roadways

Answer:- I like the Roadways most.

B) Give reasons for your preference.

Answer:-

Everyone has easy access to the roadways. As a result, it is the most frequently used by me. Roads allow me to travel to remote regions. For road travel, there are a variety of vehicles to choose from. I also have the option of driving my own vehicle. This travel allows me to experience natural beauty, green landscapes, towns, rivers, mountains, and large cities up close.

C) Write the preparations you would like to make for the journey chosen.

Answer:

(a) I would make perfect planning for the journey.               

(b) Before visiting a location, I would gather information from various sources. To determine the distance and precise position of the location, I would use a physical map or a Google map.        

(c) During the travel, I would carry the necessary items and medications. I would make reservations for plane tickets, housing, and hotels. If I had to use my own vehicle, I would bring important documents with me.             

(d) I would bring lightweight bags. I would keep my money in a safe place. I would bring cellphone chargers and power banks to ensure that my mobile service will be available at all times. I would also communicate with my family members who are still at home.          

D) Discuss the ways in which you would overcome the problems/ hindrances/ difficulties you face during your journey.

Answer:

(a) If I face a challenge on my path, I will seek assistance from those around me. If that is not possible, I will go to the location where I can acquire the necessary assistance.            

(b) I would seek the assistance of the local police or notify my friends or family members to send the necessary assistance to settle the matter.          

(c) I would retain my cool and strive to solve the difficulties. I would strive to solve the difficulties as smoothly as possible.            

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(d) To complete the journey, I would stay cool and pay attention to my safety.                

E) During every journey we have to observe certain rules. Discuss your ideas of the journey without any restrictions. 

Answer:

(a) I would go alone and search out the possible ways to continue the journey.

(b) I would go with my friends if there is a need for team efforts.       

(c) We would follow all the rules and regulations of road safety.        

(d) We would show the required documents to show our identity proof. We would not consume harmful drinks like alcohol during the journey.

Figures of speech

1) The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose……. Alliteration – The sound of the letter ‘l’ is repeated.

2) Henceforth I as not good- fortune, I myself am good- fortune…… Repetition – Word ‘good –fortune’  is repeated.         

3) I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go…..

Repetition – Words ‘Carry them’ are repeated.

4) Still here I carry my old delicious burdens…..

Paradox- Delicious and burden express opposite meanings.

5) Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticism….. Tautology- ‘Complaint and Querulous’ express the same meanings.

6) Still here……..burdens

Metaphor – Old sweet memories are indirectly compared to something delicious.

7) Henceforth I….need no more –

Climax…Words are arranged in their ascending order of importance

8) Querulous Criticism

Alliteration- Sound ‘k’ is repeated.

9) Strong and content I travel the open road. 

Inversion- The words are not in the correct prose order. The correct prose order is – I travel the open road strong and content.

10)I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return

Repetition- The word ‘fill’ is repeated.

11) Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road. 

Inversion- The words are not in the correct prose order. The correct prose order is – I take to the open road afoot and light-hearted.

12) Done with indoor complaints, libraries, and querulous criticisms.

Climax- Ideas are arranged in ascending order.

13)Song of the road – Personification

Non-living object road is shown singing.

14) Song of the Open Road

Metaphor- The road is indirectly compared with the journey of life.

15) I carry my old delicious burdens

Paradox-Burdens are described as delicious. It is absurd.

A burden cannot be delicious. The poet has used this combination of words to express that he has many sweet memories of the people and places which he would like to remember forever. 

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