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Odes to the road

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Activity 5

Odes to the road

Text A
Song of the Open Road, Walt Whitman, 1856.

1. 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.
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune, [...]
4. The earth expanding right hand and left hand,
The picture alive, every part in its best light,
The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping where it is not wanted,
The cheerful voice of the public road, the gay fresh
sentiment of the road.

Song of the Open Road, Walt Whitman, 1856.
Text B
On the Road, Jack Kerouac, 1952.

In the month of July 1947, having saved about fifty dollars from old veteran benefits, I was ready to go to the West Coast. [...] I left with my canvas bag in which a few fundamental things were packed and took off for the Pacific Ocean with fifty dollars in my pocket. I’d been poring over maps of the United States in Paterson for months, even reading books about pioneers, [...] and on the road-map was one long red line called Route 6 that led from the tip of Cape Cod clear to Ely, Nevada, and there dipped down to Los Angeles. I’ll just stay on 6 all the way to Ely, I said to myself and confidently started. To get to 6 I had to go up to Bear Mountain. [...] It began to rain in torrents when I left off there. It was mountainous. Route 6 came over the river, wound around the traffic circle, and disappeared into the wilderness.

On the Road, Jack Kerouac, 1952.
Text C
A Horse With No Name, song by America, 1972.

On the first part of the journey
I was looking at all the life
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
There was sand and hills and rings
The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz
And the sky with no clouds
The heat was hot and the ground was dry
But the air was full of sound
I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
’Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain
After two days in the desert sun
My skin began to turn red
After three days in the desert fun
I was looking at a river bed
And the story it told of a river that flowed
Made me sad to think it was dead

A Horse With No Name, song by America, 1972.
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You are in charge of one text.

Workbook p. 70

What kind of document is it? Present it.
How is the journey on the road described?

What is the aim of the journey?

Useful vocabulary:
This is...
The road is described / viewed as…
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Let's talk this out!

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Share your findings with your classmates and learn about the other texts.

What are the common points and differences?

To what extent is the road both leading and misleading?

Useful vocabulary:
They all deal with…
The road is used as a metaphor for…
What is emphasized / highlighted is...
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Over to you!

Writers’ journeys West

Let’s use what you have learnt in and / or !

Imagine you are Walt Whitman, America’s songwriter or Jack Kerouac and write an additional stanza or paragraph to one of the excerpts above..

Make sure you describe what you see, discover and feel on your westward journey.
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