Song of Myself: Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. What is Whitman, the poet-narrator, doing at the beginning of Song of Myself ?

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2. How does Whitman answer the child who asks, “What is the grass?”

3. What does the poet brush away from the face of the sleeping baby?

4. What is the “trapper” wearing when he marries the “red girl”?

5. What does the poet do when he encounters the runaway slave?

6. What sound does the “wild gander” make?

7. How does Walt Whitman describe himself in the poem?

8. What does Whitman call “the journey-work of the stars”?

9. How many men were killed in the massacre in Texas?

10. What will the poet “sound” over the “roofs of the world”?

Answers
1. Whitman is loafing and “observing a spear of summer grass.”

2. He is unable to answer the child because, Whitman writes, he does not know any more than the child does.

3. He silently brushes away flies with his hand.

4. The trapper is dressed “mostly in skins.”

5. He gives the man food, clothes, and shelter. He allows the slave to hide out and rest in his house.

6. The wild gander says, “Ya-honk.”

7. Whitman describes himself in Section 24:

Walt Whitman, a kosmos, of Manhattan the son,
Turbulent, fleshy, sensual, eating, drinking and breeding,
No sentimentalist, no stander above men and women or apart from them,
No more modest than immodest.

8. He believes “a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars…”

9. Whitman describes the massacre of 412 young American soldiers in Section 34.

10. Whitman says he will sound his “barbaric yawp.”

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