Inscriptions: Questions and Answers
1. What does the “Phantom” represent in As I Ponder’d in Silence?
2. Name the central image to which Whitman compares his book, Leaves of Grass, in the poem In Cabin’d Ships at Sea.
3. To whom does the poet dedicate In Cabin’d Ships at Sea?
4. In To a Historian, what does the poet claim to have written?
5. What are the Eidolons?
6. What advice does Whitman offer in To the States?
7. How does the poet confront adversity in Me Impertube?
8. In I Hear America Singing, where does the shoemaker sing?
9. What is the poet’s request in Shut Not Your Doors?
10. In Poets to Come, what does Whitman urge the poets, orators, singers, and musicians to do?
1. The Phantom represents the “genius of poets of old lands.”
2. Whitman compares his book to a lone bark “athwart the imperious waves.”
3. He dedicates his “song” to “mariners and all their ships.”
4. In contrast to the historian, who writes about “bygones,” Whitman says he writes “the history of the future.”
5. Eidolons are Whitman’s idea of the ultimate reality that is present in all things.
6. Whitman urges the states to “Resist much, obey little.”
7. He wants to stand “at ease in Nature” just as the “trees and animals do.”
8. The shoemaker sings “as he sits on his bench.”
9. The poet asks that his book be included in readers’ and libraries’ collections.
10. Whitman tells the poets of the future: “You must justify me.”
Song of Myself: Questions and Answers
1. What is Whitman, the poet-narrator, doing at the beginning of Song of Myself ?
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”?
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.”
Children of Adam: Questions and Answers
1. Name the central figure in the poem, To the Garden the World.
2. What does Whitman mean when he writes that he is “singing” about something?
3. Describe the significance of the farmer in Section Three of I Sing the Body Electric.
4. What kind of auction does Whitman describe in Section Seven of I Sing the Body Electric?
5. We Two, How Long We Were Fool’d features a transformation of two people. Describe what they become.
6. Who are the “shunn’d persons” in Native Moments?
7. In Once I Pass 'd through a Populous City, what does the speaker remember from his trip to the city?
8. In I Heard You Solemn Sweet Pipes of the Organ, what are the several sounds that the poet hears?
9. Describe what the speaker is seeking in Facing West from California’s Shores.
10. In As Adam Early in the Morning, what does the speaker want others to do?
1. The central figure of the poem is Adam.
2. Whitman does not write actual songs; rather, he is “singing” the praise of his subject. He wants to convey his celebration of the subject.
3. Whitman describes the farmer’s physical attributes and his hobbies, but his most salient characteristic is his important role as a father and grandfather.
4. Whitman describes a “slave mart” where slaves are bought and sold.
5. Two people transform into all kinds of nature, including plants, rocks, trees, animals, clouds, waves, and snow.
6. The “shunn’d persons” are: “Nature’s darlings,” “dancers,” “drinkers,” or any kind of “low person” who is “condemn’d by others.”
7. The speaker only remembers a woman whom he happened to meet there.
8. In addition to the “solemn sweet” sounds of an organ coming from a church, the poet hears the “[w]inds of autumn” and a “tenor singing at the opera.” He also imagines hearing the sounds of his lover “murmuring low” in his mind.
9. The speaker is seeking “what is yet unfound.”
10. The speaker wants others to touch him and not be afraid of his body.
Calamus: Questions and Answers
1. What does Whitman find, in These I Singing in Spring, that he deems to be especially important, and why is it important to him?
2. In Recorders Ages Hence, what advice does Whitman give to his future readers?
3. In When I Heard at the Close of Day, what makes Whitman happy?
4. Describe the metaphor Whitman uses in Roots and Leaves Themselves Alone to describe his poems.
5. To whom does Whitman compare the tree in I Saw in Louisiana a Live Oak Growing?
6. In This Moment Yearning and Thoughtful, how does Whitman feel about men in other countries?
7. Explain the subject of Whitman’s envy in When I Peruse the Conquer’d Fame.
8. What does A Glimpse describe?
9. In Sometimes with One I Love, what does Whitman mean when he suggests that “there is no unreturn’d love”?
10. What does the shadow respresent in That Shadow My Likeness?
1. Whitman finds a “calamus root.” It is important to him because he declares that it will be “the token of comrades.”
2. Whitman explains what future readers should say about him: he views himself as a friend and lover first, then as a poet.
3. Whitman is happy when he is with his “dear friend,” his lover.
4. Pieces of grass, roots in the ground, and...
(The entire section is 449 words.)
Birds of Passage and Sea-Drift: Questions and Answers
1. What great social and political event does Whitman write about in France?
2. What cargo are the “proud black ships” carrying in Year of Meteors?
3. In A Broadway Pageant, the poet describes what event?
4. What kind of birds does the boy observe in Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking?
5. What happens to the female bird in Out of the Cradle?
6. In Out of the Cradle, where is the beach located?
7. Identify the main character in Aboard at a Ship’s Helm?
8. With whom is the child standing in On the Beach at Night?
9. What is the poet doing in On the Beach at Night Alone?
10. How is the sea described in Patroling Barnegat?
1. Whitman writes about the French Revolution.
2. Some ships are filled with immigrants, and others are filled with gold.
3. Whitman describes a parade down Broadway in Manhattan.
4. The boy observes two mockingbirds on the beach.
5. One day, after she disappears, the male bird sings a lament.
6. The beach is in Paumanok, Long Island, New York.
7. A “young steersman” is the main character of this poem.
8. The child is with her father.
9. He is standing on the beach, observing the night sky.
10. The sea is “high running,” the result of a “wild” storm.
By the Roadside: Questions and Answers
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?
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.
Drum-Taps: Questions and Answers
1. Name the city the soldiers are parading through in First O Songs for a Prelude?
2. Who are the two speakers in Song of the Banner at Daybreak?
3. In The Centenarian’s Story, what does General Washington read to his troops before battle?
4. What happened to the young soldier in Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night?
5. In A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim, what does the poet see when he emerges from his tent?
6. What does the poet encounter in the woods in As Toilsome I Wander’d Virginia’s Woods?
7. What was the relationship between the two dead...
(The entire section is 271 words.)
Memories of President Lincoln: Questions and Answers
1. What is the underlying occasion that inspired When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d, and who is the hero?
2. In Section Three of When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d, what does Whitman do to the lilac bush?
3. What does Whitman do with the piece of the lilac bush, in Section Six?
4. In Section Eight, what does the star try to tell Whitman?
5. In Section Fifteen, who suffers the most when death occurs?
6. Describe the fate of the captain in O Captain! My Captain! ”
7. In O Captain! My Captain! what do the bells and bugles represent?
8. Explain why the soldiers are quiet in...
(The entire section is 265 words.)
Autumn Rivulets: Questions and Answers
1. Describe the returning heroes in Section Six of The Return of the Heroes.
2. In The Return of the Heroes, what weapons does Whitman want them to trade for their weapons of war?
3. What influences the child in There Was a Child Went Forth?
4. In The City Dead House, who is the corpse that Whitman describes?
5. In This Compost, why is the earth described as a compost heap?
6. Name the subject of Unnamed Lands.
7. Describe how the woman who sings in the prison affects the prisoners in The Singer in the Prison.
8. In Warble for Lilac Time, what three activities does...
(The entire section is 332 words.)
From Noon to Starry Night: Questions and Answers
1. In Thou Orb Aloft Full Dazzling, how does the sun communicate with Whitman?
2. In Section Four of The Mystic Trumpeter, what affect does the trumpeter have on Whitman?
3. Describe the personification of the locomotive in To a Locomotive in Winter.
4. In Mannahatta, how does the poet feel about the island of Manhattan?
5. Explain how Whitman will deal with his enemies in Ah Poverties, Wincings, and Sulky Retreats.
6. Identify the subject of the poem Mediums.
7. In Old War Dreams, what does Whitman dream about?
8. Name the subject of the poem Thick Sprinkled...
(The entire section is 289 words.)
Whispers of Heavenly Death and Songs of Parting: Questions and Answers
1. Name the cities Whitman writes about in Of Him I Love Day and Night?
2. Where is the poet walking in As If a Phantom Caress’d Me?
3. What is the spider doing in the poem A Noiseless Patient Spider?
4. In Night on the Prairies, now that supper is over, what are the emigrants doing?
5. What is the poet doing in Night on the Prairies?
6. In the poem Thought, what does the poet think about as he sits with others at a great feast?
7. What does the poet plan to do when he goes “forth” in As the Time Draws Nigh?
8. In Song at Sunset, how does Whitman describe old...
(The entire section is 255 words.)
Individual Longer Poems: Questions and Answers
1. In Section Two of Song of the Open Road, what are the “unseen existences” that Whitman perceives along the road?
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...
(The entire section is 318 words.)