Study Guide

Song of the Open Road Section 10

By Walt Whitman

Section 10

  • Section 10 opens up with another "Allons," and then the speaker predicts that the "inducements" (incentives) for going will be even greater (125).
  • Apparently that's because the open road has turned into… the open sea.
  • The speaker describes the freedom of sailing across the "pathless and wild seas" (126) in a "Yankee clipper" (a kind of ship) that's going at full speed (127). Better batten down the hatches.
  • We're not alone on the boat. Everything from "power" to "the elements" to "self-esteem" is on board (128-129). That's quite a crew.
  • We're next hit with another "Allons!" This time, it's not the road that's calling, or even the sea. The speaker wants us to move away from "the formules," or formulas (131).
  • He particularly wants the "bat-eyed and materialistic priests" to drop these formulas. Hey, he said it, not us.
  • In essence, the speaker seems to be calling for pure freedom here. "Enough with all the routine and formulaic ways of living," is what he seems to be saying.
  • He also says that there's a "stale cadaver" (dead body) holding this "passage," or voyage, up—ew (132).
  • It's time to bury that thing, he says, which indicates that it's symbolic of the old, traditional ways of life.
  • Next the reader says that anyone coming on this trip with him better bring their A game.
  • They need to have stamina, courage, as well as good "blood" and a healthy set of "thews" (muscles) (134).
  • Nobody gets to go on this fantastic voyage until they're fit enough to endure it. Our speaker is after young and "sweet" bodies on this trip (137). Rum-drinkers and venereal disease sufferers need not apply. Okay…
  • Our speaker wants us to know that he and his kind don't do their convincing by arguments or rhymes. In other words, they don't rely on writing to speak for them.
  • Nope—instead, the speaker notes: "We convince by our presence" (140).

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