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Topic #1
Discuss Whitman’s use of imagery and descriptive language in three of his Civil War poems.

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I. Thesis Statement: Whitman’s use of imagery paints vivid pictures of war and death, and his language creates strong emotions within the reader.

II. Cavalry Crossing a Ford
A. Literal meanings of words and images
1. Cavalry rides a “serpentine” course
2. Crossing the “silvery river”
3. Banners waving and flags that “flutter gayly”
B. Emotional connotations
1. Possible interpretations: the reader responds
a. Serpentine course
b. Silvery river
c. Flags and banners fluttering gayly
C. Whitman’s intended meanings

III. First O Songs for a Prelude
A. Literal meanings of words and images
1. “lightly strike on the stretch’d tympanum”
2. “ominous hum our hive at daybreak”
3. “blood of the city up arm’d!”
4. “O for a manly life in the camp.”
B. Emotional connotations
1. Possible interpretations: the reader responds
a. Sights and sounds of war: drums and camp “hum”
b. “Blood” images and death
c. “Manly” pursuits and war
C. Whitman’s intended meanings

IV. Rise O Days from Your Fathomless Deeps
A. Literal meanings of words and images
1. “Rise O days from your fathomless deeps”
2. “Torrents of men”
3. “Thunder on! stride on, Democracy!”
4. “ironically hissing low”
B. Emotional Connotations
1. Possible interpretations: the reader responds
a. Water images: fathomless deeps and torrents
b. Contrast: thundering and hissing
C. Whitman’s intended meanings

V. Conclusion

Topic #2
Illustrate Whitman’s use of mystical concepts in Song of Myself.

I. Thesis Statement: In Song of Myself, Whitman describes the spiritual connection between himself and the entire universe.

II. Whitman and other human beings
A. Descriptions of the universal bond Whitman feels between himself and others
1. Children at play
2. Ordinary lives of other people
3. Descriptions of workers in many occupations
B. Whitman’s feelings of compassion and benevolence

III. Whitman and nature
A. Whitman’s connection to animals and nature
1. Alone in “wilds and mountains”
2. Whitman at sea and on the beach
3. The “wild gander” and his flock
4. The moose, sow, and cattle
B. Grass as the poem’s central symbol
1. “Loafing” on the grass
2. Child’s question: “What is the grass?”
3. Mystical associations with symbol of grass

IV. Whitman’s connection to the cosmos
A. Spirituality and connection to God
1. “What is a man anyhow?”
2. Meaning of existence

(The entire section contains 609 words.)

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