Leaves of Grass By the Roadside: Questions and Answers

Walt Whitman

By the Roadside: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is the poem, Europe, The 72d and 73d Years of These States, about?

2. In A Hand Mirror, Whitman describes a person’s exterior as a “fair costume,” but what is the inside of the person like?

3. Describe the audience’s response to the astronomer’s lecture in When I Heard the Learn ’d Astronomer.

4. How does the speaker react to the astronomer’s lecture?

5. Explain the question Whitman asks himself in O Me! O Life!

6. The “sorrows of the world” listed in I Sit and Look Out include which concerns of Whitman’s?

7. In To Rich Givers, what does Whitman give in exchange for “[a] little sustenance”?

8. In The Dalliance of the Eagles, describe what Whitman sees on his walk along “the river road.”

9. What kind of woman is more beautiful, in Beautiful Women?

10. What question does Whitman ask the reader, in Hast Never Come to Thee an Hour?

Answers
1. The poem is about revolution against kings, tyrants, and masters.

2. The person’s insides are “rotting away piecemeal” and full of “ashes and filth.”

3. The people in the lecture room applaud.

4. The speaker is not impressed with the astronomer’s discoveries and instead feels compelled to leave the room and look at the stars in silence.

5. Whitman asks what his purpose is in life, especially when he sees that life is a struggle.

6. The “sorrows of the world” include all kinds of oppression: young men crying with remorse, mothers and wives abused, war and tyranny, famine, and exploitation.

7. Whitman gives his poems.

8. Whitman sees two eagles, one male and one female, meet in the air, fall together, and then separate and fly away.

9. Old women are more beautiful than young women.

10. Whitman asks whether the reader has ever seen through the materialistic trappings of his/her life.