Walt Whitman
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Song of Myself Analysis
“Song of Myself” is the perfect example of Transcendentalist Literature. Whitman wrote a huge poem about him, nature, the Cosmos, etc. The poem covers Whitman and Everything.


Personal Reaction
I love to read this poem, even though I find that I am not enough of an intellectual to break down all of the references, symbolism, etc. If you read it out loud, it sounds lovely, and you can appreciate the thoughtfulness that Whitman used when creating it. My favorite part is when the child asks “What is the grass?” This behavior is so typical of children, but Whitman derives much more from it.




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Whitman editing Whitman



Song of Myself


Specific Lines from the Text:

“I am satisfied- I see, dance, laugh, sing:” I love this line. This will be my new creed. As long as I can do one of these for things I can be content with my life.

“A child said What is the grass? Fetching it to me with full hands;”
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he.”
This line reminds me of my childhood when I would ask my mother “Why is the sky blue?” and she would never have an answer.


Journal Entry #3

Henry David Thoreau


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"I went to the Woods, because I wished to live deliberately."





I chose to analyze “Solitude” the fifth chapter of Henry David Thoreau's “Walden.” Thoreau wrote about walking in the woods, and marveling at everything around him. He used a lot of personification when he was describing his surroundings. Mother Nature almost became another character in the story. He wrote about what joy solitary life is, and that it is like he owns the stars/sky himself. The major theme Thoreau was trying to pass on is that we all have the power to function autonomously, away from the general public, and if we do this we can achieve great things. Some of what his statements are a paradox. He talked about being completely alone, even when he was with a group of people. This is also a paradox because he isn't alone in the woods, he had visitors to the cabin, and lived 15 minutes away from his parents. Just because he was living a solitary lifestyle, it doesn't mean he was lonely. He was connected to nature, and worshiped it religiously/spiritually. The setting of solitude was Thoreau's cabin on Walden Pond in Massachusetts.



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I have been a fan of Thoreau for a long time. I read Walden in high school and really loved it. I have loved nature, particularly the woods, my entire life. I grew up on a farm that had fourteen acres and we had free roam of the forest that surrounded our property. I spent many weekends up a tree with my nose buried in a book. As a modern reader, I think this text is significant because some of the key points that Thoreau was trying to make would help people reconnect with the outdoors. If everyone went for a walk in the woods by themselves without texting or checking emails, stress levels would decrease. We need to become more invested, and take advantage of the free entertainment that lies in our own backyards. He stressed the importance of trying to live simply. We could all learn a thing or two from this great man.

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A replica of Thoreau's Cabin






“Every little pine needle expanded and swelled with sympathy and befriended me.” This quote is an example of Thoreau's use of personification.

“Can we not do without the society of our gossips a little while under these circumstances, -- have our own thoughts to cheer us?” This is an example of Thoreau emphasizing the significance of being alone with our own thoughts.









Journal Entry #2

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"The Return of Rip Van Winkle" John Quidor


I chose to analyze Washington Irving's “Rip Van Winkle.” Our setting is a village in the Catskill Mountains in the couple years before Revolutionary War, and the story picks up about twenty years later. The main character is walking about in the woods, and stumbles upon some shady characters who share a little mystery brew with him, and he falls asleep for twenty years. One theme that is very important to this story is use of imagination. This is one of the major characteristics of literature of the Romantic period. Another important theme from the story is that even though we must change and move forward as a society, it is important to remember what came before us. A literary device that is used in this story is personification. The landscape of the story acts almost as a character. The mountains are “clothed in blue and purple.”


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The Catskills "clothed in blue and purple"

"Poor Rip was at last reduced almost to despair; and his only alternative, to escape from the labor of the farm and clamor of his wife, was to take gun in hand and stroll away into the woods. Here he would sometimes seat himself at the foot of a tree, and share the contents of his wallet with Wolf, with whom he sympathized as a fellow-sufferer in persecution. 'Poor Wolf,' he would say, 'thy mistress leads thee a dog's life of it; but never mind, my lad, whilst I live thou shalt never want a friend to stand by thee!'"

Rip is complaining about his wife/Life to his one true companion- His dog Wolf. He liked to go into the woods to try and escape the monotony of his life even though he was the true cause of his problems.

“His mind now misgave him; he began to doubt whether both he and the world around him were not bewitched. Surely this was his native village which he had left but the day before. There stood the Kaatskill mountains--there ran the silver Hudson at a distance--there was every hill and dale precisely as it had always ken--Rip was sorely perplexed—‘That flagon last night,’ thought he, ‘has addled my poor head sadly!’”

Rip has just woken up from his very long nap and he is trying to “get a grip”on what has happened to him. The village has changed entirely but the mountains, and river remain the same.

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One of My favorite beards in literature!


Journal Entry #1








Letters from a Farmer from Pennsylvania, John Dickinson (1767-1768)


A character’s (or author’s) attempt to recapture the past is important in many plays, novels, poems, and essays. Choose a literary work from the American Revolution in which the tone of the piece views the past with such feelings as reverence, bitterness, or longing. How does the use of literary devices contribute to the tone?



The tone of Revolutionary War literature played a huge part in inspiring colonists to take action in the war against the British. John Dickinson’s “Letters from a farmer in Pennsylvania” did just that. Dickinson had the spirit of a Patriot before it was popular to do so. The tone of his letters are very serious, with a definite tinge of bitterness.
AC: What were his reasons for bitterness?


His letters are some of the best examples of literature (of that era) that compelled it’s readers.
AC: I think that’s a really great and bold statement… “some of the best examples of literature..”
AM: That was a misstep on my part. I didn't mean that to sound so generalized. I meant that his writing was one of the most influential of the Revolutionary War era, not a best example EVER :)


His letters were posted in newspapers so they were easily available to everyone. He was passionate about his cause and his letters reflect a tenacity that inspired people. “From infancy I was taught to love humanity and liberty. Inquiry and experience have since confirmed my reverence for the lessons then given me by convincing me more fully of their truth and excellence.”
AC: “God grant that not only the love of liberty but a thorough knowledge of the rights of man pervade all the nations of the earth, so that a philosopher may pervade all the nations of the earth, so that a philosopher may set his foot anywhere on its surface and say:" This is my country." -Benjamin Franklin – The quote Ashley used immediately made me think of this quote by Ben Franklin.

His words swayed people to join the cause in the best interest of the independence of the Colonies. He believes humanity and liberty are worth fighting for.
AC:
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“But whoever seriously considers the matter must perceive that a dreadful stroke is aimed at the liberty of these colonies. I say of these colonies; for the cause of one is the cause of all.”
AC: Liberty! So I know this video is about after the revolution but I think it still serves to explain how the colonies had to be united as Ashley has been explaining in her essay.

He further supports his point by saying that Great Britain was going to crush them, and if his readers didn’t want that to happen they should join up. His use of foreshadowing is effective in showing the impending doom that awaited the Colonies under British control.

He also incited feelings of betrayal against changes in taxation.
AC: I love revolutionary history… and one thing that has always stuck with me from one of my old high school history classes is, “TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION!”
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He leveled with the colonists and gave them many examples about why they should be enraged by their unfair treatment by Great Britain. Not only was he trying to help them to unite the Colonies in independence, he wanted them to look out for their own economic interests. “If the British Parliament has a legal authority to issue an order that we shall furnish a single article for the troops here and compel obedience to that order, they have the same right to issue an order for us supply those troops with arms, clothes, and every necessary, and to compel obedience to that order also; in short, to lay any burdens they please upon us.” He convinced colonists that they were being robbed by all the taxes they were incurring, and that they would have to do whatever the Brits desired.
AC: The word convinced almost seems strong… I’m sure his writings convinced some but did it really become a defining factor in whether we went to war or not?


He also asks for people to take physical action against the British. He alludes that Great Britain usually resorts to force, and violence against them would be justified to ensure getting what they want.
AC: I find it interesting that just a few years after this was published in 1770 the Boston Massacre took place. Whether the massacre was extreme and one sided as believed at one point, it still demonstrates that the British were more than willing to use force on the colonies. This entire site is dedicated to the Boston Massacre: The Boston Massacre

“If at length it becomes undoubted that an inveterate resolution is formed to annihilate the liberties of the governed, the English history affords frequent examples of resistance by force. What particular circumstances will in any future case justify such resistance can never be ascertained till they happen. Perhaps it may be allowable to say generally, that it never can be justifiable until the people are fully convinced that any further submission will be destructive to their happiness.” Dickinson's plainness of speech, persuasive nature, and seriousness convinced Colonists to consider how much life would change if they could govern themselves. He challenged them to take control of their happiness.
AC: I think it’s a great point that Dickinson for the most part was just one of them… he wasn’t necessarily anyone special and that he could relate to the people’s fears; also he was able to put those fears into terms that people could understand and accept and maybe even use them against them to fire them up a little bit!



Reflection:

I liked doing this mini-essay very much. Aleisha's insight into my writing was very helpful when trying to annotate her essay. She is a great partner because she is an honest critic. I like that she points out where I may have been a little overzealous in my writing :) Her notes helped remind me that I need to be more concise in the wording that I use sometimes so that I convey my ideas exactly as they are floating around in my head. The links and pictures that she added helped to enrich the ideas that I was trying to support. I also learned a lot from them, especially the Boston Massacre link.

I thought Aleisha did a really nice job with her essay. I have been familiar with "Common Sense" since high school but never had much of an interest after that. Her thoughts on it, as well as those on the Declaration of Independence has peaked my curiosity in them. I want to delve a litter deeper and read beyond the actual texts.

I leave this assignment with a renewed interest in the American Revolution, and digging to do into the heart of what drove these men (beyond the superficial). I am lucky to get my homework done in a week, and they penned literature that sparked a new way of thinking!