Reading Comprehension

Walt Whitman, selection from "Song of Myself"

Mr. Steel











1. How does Whitman characterize his poem?



2. Explain how Whitman views life and death. Use his discussion of grass in your analysis (5-118).







3. Whitman calls himself a kosmos (217; Gk. term for "good order"). What does he mean? Explain how Walt Whitman understands his relation to the rest of the world?








4. Given your answer to question 3, explain the experiential basis for Whitman's claims in lines 501-507. Why would Whitman speak of democracy and his affinity with all human beings?






5. Why does Whitman recall images of turbulent human history, the forces of nature, the beginnings of the universe, and even dung beetles in this poem? (508-515)









6. Why does Whitman feel able to transform the forbidden? (516-526)









7. In lines 527-543, Whitman identifies his own body with everything else. Why?










8. In lines 544 to the end of the excerpt, describe how Whitman's self-understanding affects his feelings towards the world around him.