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Study Questions

Song of Myself Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
  1. Who is the speaker of the poem? How many speakers are there? Do the "Me Myself" or the "Soul" ever get a chance to speak?
  2. What is the relationship between the "Walt Whitman" who narrates the poem and the Walt Whitman who wrote the poem? Can we assume that the two are the same person?
  3. "Song of Myself" is sometimes described as an "American epic," in the same way that Homer's Odyssey or Virgil's Aeneid are epics. What makes this poem "epic," or do you disagree with this judgment?
  4. What would Whitman think about people memorizing his poem and studying it in classes and writing papers about it? Would his ego be flattered, or would he think this wasn't true to the spirit of the poem? Or do you think that he would have a different reaction entirely?
  5. Do you find yourself wanting to identify with Whitman, or do you want to resist his attempts to make you a part of himself?
  6. What kinds of stories or memories would you include in a "Song of Yourself"? Remember, as Whitman shows, your song can include lots of things that didn't actually happen directly to you.
  7. Do you agree with people who say that "Song of Myself" is the most representative American poem? What would make it representative? What makes it "democratic"?
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