Thinking about the Poem (Page 84)
Question 1. Notice the use of the word ‘turn’ in the first line, “I think I could turn and live with animals…”. What is the poet turning from?
Answer 1 In this line the poet wants to turn from other humans to animals as he finds them complicated and false. He thought that animals are non-complaining and self-contained.
Question 2. Mention three things that humans do and animals don’t.
1) Animals are very satisfied creatures and have no desire to possess material things.
2) Animals do not cry and complain over their conditions.
3) Animals do not commit sins and therefore do not weep for them whereas humans does.
Question 3. Do humans kneel to other humans who lived thousands of years ago? Discuss this in groups.
Answer 3 Yes, humans kneel to other humans who lived thousands of years ago as it is a cultural tradition to do so. They worship their ancestors and hold religious ceremonies in their memory.
Question 4. What are the ‘tokens’ that the poet says he may have dropped long ago, and which the animals have kept for him? Discuss this in class. (Hint: Whitman belongs to the Romantic tradition that includes Rousseau and Wordsworth, which holds that civilisation has made humans false to their own true nature. What could be the basic aspects of our nature as living beings that humans choose to ignore or deny?
Answer 4 It means the symbols of the true nature of human beings. These tokens are actually tokens of virtue such as containment, honesty, innocence and the likes of it.