Meanings –
1) Afoot- walking, in motion
2) brown path – barren land
3) postpone- to halt for some time
4) suffice- enough, sufficient
5) delicious burdens – sweet memories of the past
6) whimper – low voice of cry or agony, unhappiness, sadness
7) querulous – argumentative, complaining
8) constellations – group, collection, gathering (of people)
9) light-hearted – cheerful, care-free

The poet – Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman is an American poet. He is considered as the father of free verse. He was born in 1819 and grew up in the New York area. He had no formal schooling, but he considered himself to be a lifelong learner. Whitman died at the age of 72 in 1892.
The poem ‘Song of the Open Road’ is written in free verse. It is written in monologue form. The poet expresses his views on the journey of life taken on different roads. The unrhymed and varying length of lines suggest the complexities and the ups and downs one faces in life. It also indicates the poet’s inner desire to enjoy life to its fullest without bothering about the tensions and worries.
Walt Whitman strongly advocates importance of democracy & Freedom. It is an inspirational poem. This poem is an Ode to one’s self.

Explanation of the poem-

I Stanza-
“Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.”In these lines, Whitman is simply expressing happiness as he begins to walk the road. He starts his walk (“afoot”), with a light heart, which means, a happy heart that is free from the burdens of cares, stresses and sorrows. He takes off on this walk, with a happy heart. He is rejoicing in the fact that he is healthy, and able to do so. Not everyone can just take off walking when they have the desire; he can, and he rejoices in it.
He also feels free–he has the freedom to take a walk and enjoy it if he desires. As he goes on his walk, he is optimistic; he feels like he can accomplish anything. He expresses this sentiment through “the world is before me.” He feels like the world is his, there for him to enjoy. When he mentions “the long brown path before me,” he is simply referring to either the barren road that he is on, or a trail that he is following through the woods. And the last part, “leading me wherever I choose,” indicates once again his optimism; he can go where he wants, and he does, in full health and happiness.

II Stanza-
“Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content, I travel the open road”

The poet says that he does not have to pray for good luck because he is the maker of his own luck. He will no longer cry or hesitate to do what he wants because he is in need of nothing. He is no longer content with being walled inside; he is strong and happy to be on the open road. In line six, Whitman writes of “querulous criticisms.” The use of alliteration here emphasizes the speaker’s carefree tone. It is continued throughout the course of Song of the Open Road.

III Stanza-
“The earth, that is sufficient,
I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them”

-The poet seems to separate himself from others. He says that the earth is fine the way it is. He does not desire to be any closer to the stars than he already is. He knows they are fine where they are, and he knows they are good enough for those who belong to them. In this line, the speaker emphasizes his free will and independence. He probably does not include himself in the group of people who belong to the constellations. He does not belong to them because he does not need them.

IV Stanza-
(Still I carry my old delicious burdens,
I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go,
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.)

-The poet uses parentheses in this stanza to clarify certain things he has not mentioned in the first three stanzas. Here, the speaker admits that he is not without his own problems, but instead of running away from them, he relishes them. His use of the word delicious is intentional. In the second line of the final stanza, the speaker admits that he carries sweet burdens with him wherever he goes. This thought is continued in the final two lines of the poem. The speaker declares that he cannot rid himself of them; instead, he and his burdens share a symbiotic relationship: he is filled with his burdens, and in return, he fills them. The poet states here that his burdens do not define him; rather, he accepts them and carries them with him wherever he goes.

Summary –
The poem begins with poet’s journey on foot on the open road of life. He says that he is very cheerful to take the journey in this healthy and free world. In addition, the poet has a control over his journey as he is free to choose the brown path wherever to travel.
The poet continues to express his thoughts further by saying that he does not ask for good fortune. Instead he considers himself the creator of his own fortune. He adds that he will not cry or hesitate to do anything without postponing it and expects nothing. He is no longer satisfied in the four walls. He is strong enough and also happy to travel on the open road without any complaints and arguments from his past life.
In the next stanza, the poet tries to free himself from the worldly pleasures and relations. He has a great faith in his friends and knows that they are doing well and are happy. But he would now not like to engage himself in friends and other people as he believes that the mother earth is now enough for him to travel further.

Special features of the poem –
The poem is written in simple language. It is written in free verse. Length of the lines and stanzas are unequal. There are four stanzas. The first stanza contains only three lines, the other two stanzas contain four lines. In the last stanzas poet uses parentheses to indicate his separation from the worldly needs.
Phrases like ‘light-hearted’ and ‘querulous criticisms’ are wisely used.
Imageries such as constellations and brown colour are noteworthy.
Figures of speech such as Alliteration, Metaphor, Repetition and Paradox are impressive.
Traits exhibited – self-confidence, self-reliance, Independence, Clear thinking, Honesty, Self-acceptance, Optimism

The title of the poem is very significant as Walt Whitman uses the word ‘Song’ with a definite purpose in the title. He faces the life uncomplainingly and takes delight in travelling on the open road without any tension and worries of past, present and future and. The poet is determined to move ahead on the road of life with his own will and integrity. The Song of the open road also indicates & promotes freedom.

Major themes of this poem are Freedom, joy of free life and optimism. Throughout the poem, the poet encourages the readers to be true to themselves and live a free and enjoy the freedom of life. Poet’s life is not free from obligations and troubles. But he inspires everyone to live their dreams, leaving all the worries and difficulties behind.

The poem gives the message to be optimistic and happy. We all enjoy freedom and opportunities in life. This poem gives us a new attitude to look at life. It encourages us to enjoy the life and fill our heart with immense pleasure for living.

Figures of speech –
1) The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose…….
Alliteration – Sound of letter ‘l’ is repeated.

2) Henceforth I ask not good- fortune, I myself am good- fortune……
Repetition – Word ‘good –fortune’ is repeated.

3) I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go…..
Repetition – Words ‘Carry them’ are repeated.

4) Still here I carry my old delicious burdens…..
Paradox – Delicious and burden express opposite meaning.

5) Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticism…..
Tautology- ‘Complaint and Querulous’ expresses same meanings.

6) Still here……..burdens
Metaphor – burdens are indirectly compared to something delicious.

7) Henceforth I….need no more – Old sweet memories are indirectly compared to something delicious.
Climax….Words are arranged in their ascending order of importance

8) Querulous Criticism
Alliteration- Sound ‘k’ is repeated.

9) Strong and content I travel the open road.
Inversion- The words are not in a correct prose order.
The correct prose order is – I travel the open road strong and content.

10) I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return
Repetition- The word ‘fill’ is repeated.

11) Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road.
Inversion- The words are not in a correct prose order.
The correct prose order is – I take to the open road afoot and light hearted.

12) Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms.
Climax- Ideas are arranged in ascending order.

13)Song of the road –
Personification – Non-living object road is given the human quality of singing.

14) Song of the Open Road
Metaphor – song is indirectly compared to open road.

15) I carry my old delicious burdens
Paradox – Burdens are described as delicious which is absurd.

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