Study Guide

Song of the Open Road Section 1

By Walt Whitman

Section 1

  • Okay—everybody ready to take off on this open road? Backpacks ready? Comfy shoes laced? Passports stamped? Let's hit that trail then.
  • Our speaker starts off walking on foot. He's in good spirits.
  • Psst—we're just going to guess that our speaker is a "he" for now. Check out "Speaker" for much more on him.
  • We'd wish him luck, but he doesn't need luck ("good fortune"). He describes himself as "good fortune" (4.). He's not whining or delaying anymore. He's off on the road.
  • It seems like he has all he needs. He says that "The earth" is "sufficient," as are the constellations (7), which are enough for "those who belong to them" (10).
  • He's not traveling empty-handed, though. The speaker describes "men and women" (12) as his "old delicious burdens" (11). He just can't get rid of them.
  • All the same, he doesn't seem to have a problem carrying them around. They are "delicious" after all—mmm, people. He says that these people "fill"—or satisfy—him, and that he'll repay them the favor by filling them as well. That's nice of him.
  • What's also nice is that he doesn't seem to be using any tricky poetic forms in this poem. For more on the poem's form, check out "Form and Meter."

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