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What does this quote mean from "Song of the Open Road" by Walt Whitman?"Afoot and...

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inarmz | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 4, 2009 at 5:43 AM via web

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What does this quote mean from "Song of the Open Road" by Walt Whitman?

"Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,

Healthy, free, the world before me,

The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose."

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 4, 2009 at 6:42 AM (Answer #1)

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Walt Whitman was a poet that rejoiced in being alive and healthy, happy and free.  He loved to explore and write about his meetings with all types of people.  He enjoyed nature, hunting, walking, being outside, meeting laborers and skilled people, and learning about their trades and lifestyles.  All in all, he expressed appreciation and joy for every aspect of being alive.

In these lines, Whitman is simply expressing happiness as he hits the road to go for a walk.  He starts off by saying that he starts his walk on foot ("afoot"), with a light heart, which means, a happy heart that is free from the burdens of cares, streses and sorrows.  He takes off on this walk, happy of heart, and rejoicing in the fact that he is healthy, and able to do so.  Not everyone can just take off walking when they have the desire; he can, and rejoices in it.  He also feels free--he has the freedom to take a walk and enjoy it if he desires.  As he goes on his walk, he is optimistic; he feels like he can accomplish anything.  He expresses this sentiment through "the world is before me."  He feels like the world is his, there for him to enjoy.  When he mentions "the long brown path before me," he is simply referring to either the dirt road that he is on, or a trail that he is following through the woods.  And the last part, "leading me wherever I choose," indicates once again his optimism; he can go where he wants, and he does, in full health and happiness.

I hope that those thoughts help a bit; good luck!

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