Study Guide

Song of the Open Road Section 6

By Walt Whitman

Section 6

  • Our speaker seems prepared—for anything. It wouldn't surprise him if 1,000 "perfect men" or "beautiful forms of women" appeared right in front of him (70-71).
  • The speaker lets us know that he now knows how "the best persons" are made (72). They should grow in the open air and "eat and sleep with the earth" (73). That sounds like an easy enough recipe to follow.
  • Out in the open air, he continues, there is room enough for a "great personal deed" (74).
  • Such a deed can take over the heart of every man—nothing can stop it.
  • Out here (the speaker's still discussing the open road, remember) is where the speaker finds "the test of wisdom" (76).
  • Wisdom isn't something you can test for in school, he says, and it can't be passed on from one person to another—so stop listening to your grandparents' advice, we guess.
  • Our speaker claims that wisdom is "of the Soul," and it can't be proven (80). Instead, it "is its own proof" (80).
  • What's more, wisdom can apply to everything. The speaker describes it as the certainty that everything is real, immortal, and excellent—totally, dude.
  • The Soul expresses wisdom just by seeing things, he says ("in the float of the sight of things") (83).
  • Now the speaker's going to take another look at all the religions and philosophies. Yeah, that shouldn't take too long.
  • They may sound good ("prove") in classrooms, but they may not ring true out here on the open road and in the open air (85).
  • Out here in the wide world, a man realizes just what he's made out of (you know, other than bones and organs).
  • If you're not a part of "past, future, majesty, love," then you won't they won't be a part of you (88). So… just keep that in mind.
  • Next, our speaker waxes pretty metaphorical. He states that only "the kernel" of an object is the thing that gives nourishment (89).
  • He's not on about corn here, he's talking figuratively about the importance of the core of something—or someone.
  • Speaking of his core, the speaker wants to know when someone's going to come along and tear "off the husks of you and me" (90). He wants the outer layers stripped away, the "stratagems and envelopes" peeled back to reveal the true nature of what lies beneath (91). Let's get shucking.
  • Out on the road, the speaker also finds "adhesiveness," but not the Elmer's glue kind (92). He's talking about being loved by the strangers he passes on the open road and who turn to look at him. Folks are glued to him, it seems.

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