Individual Longer Poems: Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. In Section Two of Song of the Open Road, what are the “unseen existences” that Whitman perceives along the road?

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2. What does Whitman invite the reader to do in Section Nine?

3. Name the qualities a traveler needs in order to journey with Whitman, according to Section Ten.

4. In Section One of Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, Whitman is curious about whom?

5. Whitman is imagining the future in Section Two. How far ahead is he looking?

6. In Section Seven of Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, who has Whitman “consider’d long and seriously”?

7. Explain the human attributes Whitman gives the axe in Section One of Song of the Broad Axe.

8. Describe the land that best suits the axe, according to the lines in Section Two.

9. What makes a city great, according to Section Four?

10. In Section Eight, how did the “European headsman” once use the axe?

1. The “unseen existences” are the “spirits” of those who have traveled the road before him.

2. Whitman invites the reader to “come travel” with him.

3. To join Whitman, the traveler must have courage, good health, and high endurance.

4. Whitman is curious about the people he watches traveling on the ferry and the people he imagines will “cross from shore to shore years hence.”

5. Whitman is looking ahead “[f]ifty years hence” and “[a] hundred years hence,” and even “ever so many hundred years hence.”

6. Whitman has thought “long and seriously” about future readers of his poetry.

7. The axe is “shapely” and “naked,” and Whitman uses the following human features to describe it: “head,” “flesh,” “bone,” “limb,” and “lip.”

8. The axe is made for any kind of land; all lands are shaped by the axe.

9. People, and not the buildings and monuments they leave behind, make a city great.

10. The “European headsman” once used the axe to behead a variety of people: “lords,” “ladies,” “impeach’d ministers, rejected kings,” “[r]ivals, traitors, poisoners,” “nobles,” and “queens.”

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