"I Sit and Look Out" Constructed Response Activity
and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all oppression and
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at anguish with themselves, remorseful after
see, in low life, the mother misused by her children, dying, neglected, gaunt,
I see the wife misused by her husband - I see the treacherous seducer of young women;
I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited love, attempted to be hid - I see these sights
on the earth;
the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny - I see martyrs and prisoners;
I observe a famine at sea - I observe the sailors casting lots who shall be kill'd, to preserve
the lives of the rest;
I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant persons upon laborers, the poor, and
upon negroes, and the like;
these - All the meanness and agony without end, I sitting, look out upon,
See, hear, and am silent.
"I Sit and look Out" Taken from Leaves of Grass. © 1900 by Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
"...How does it become a man to
behave toward this American government to-day? I answer, that he cannot without
disgrace be associated with it. I cannot for an instant recognize that
political organization as my government which is the slave's government also.
All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse
allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its
inefficiency are great and unendurable...In other words, when a sixth of the
population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are
slaves...I think that it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize..There
are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and to the war, who yet in
effect do nothing to put an end to them; who, esteeming themselves children of
Washington and Franklin, sit down with their hands in their pockets, and say
that they know not what to do, and do nothing..."
"Civil Disobedience" (excerpt) © 1849 By Henry D. Thoreau ( 1817-1862 )
1 What problems of society do Whitman and
Thoreau comment on in their writings?
2 Discuss and explain the meaning of Whitman's
poem and the excerpt from Thoreau's essay. Compare the message of each
document, how are they alike and how do they differ? Include specific examples
and language from each document in your response. Be sure to consider the
significance of the title of each work.
3 What is a muckraker? Would a muckracker
agree with the message of Whitman's poem? Explain
4 Write meaningful statements about the
Progressive reformers using each of the following concept words; change, empathy,
5 Summarize the
meaning of the Queen song Under Pressure. How is the message of the song
similar to Whitman's poem and how are the works different? Be sure to consider
language and imagery.