Reading Cultural Crossroads: Whitman’s and Yu’s Poems

Introduction: My Participation

Poetry can be seen as the highest top of the literary work since poets manage to articulate their ideas within quite short and refined pieces. Analysis of such works is especially challenging and exciting (at least, it is so for me). I thought I was quite good at analyzing texts and I took an active part in the group work. I expressed my ideas and many of these ideas were used in the presentation. For example, I drew some lines between Walt Whitman’s “One Song, America, Before I Go” and Timothy Yu’s “Three Chinese Silences”. At the same time, when working on the presentation, I learned a lot and I understood that there were numerous gaps in my knowledge of literary analysis. Clearly, this assignment enabled me to identify these gaps and fill them.

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Helping Readers Understand

The presentation of our group provides many insights into very meaningful poems. It is necessary to note that many people reading poems focus on the form and miss numerous important aspects of the meaning. Sometimes readers are unable to see some hints the poet is giving as the tips are hidden (or simply located) in particular lines, words, or even sounds. We also help readers focus on one of the topics that drew the attention of many poets who lived in different centuries and different countries.

Our presentation helps the reader grasp the most important topics and themes discussed in the poems. The reader is able to better understand the poem, poets, the world around them poets and it can also help readers understand a lot about themselves. The presentation unveils the most interesting issues discussed in the poems and makes the reader consider those issues and come up with his/her own conclusions. I believe this is one of the most important things to do: to adjust each piece to one’s own world and think about what the poem can reveal about the reader rather than about the poet.

The Literary Criticism and My Understanding

I would like to note that issues associated with culture are of great interest to me. Whitman’s poem touches upon this issue. The poet focuses on the development of the American nation, which consists of many ethnic groups that live and work together. The literary analysis helped me reveal new facets of the poem and I understood that the poem was written as a farewell where the poet shared his hopes (Asselineau 206). Notably, I understood that the poet focused on the future, as he did not see what he wanted to see in society during his days.

I also managed to understand how Whitman’s poem is close to “Three Chinese Silences” written by Tim Yu. Of course, Timothy Yu notes that his Chinese silences are his response to Billy Collin’s work (“Poetry” par. 1). However, the major topics of Whitman’s and Yu’s poems are very similar. Cultural and even national identities are brought to the fore in the two works. The two poets are also trying to identify their place in the world. Thus, Whitman focuses on future generations. Tim Yu focuses on the present and past generations. He understands that he is one of those Chinese people whose silence is already heard by many. I believe that literary criticism enabled me to take a closer look at the works and dig deeper.

The Presentation and Concepts Under Study

In our presentation, we tried to reveal such concepts as identity and culture. We wanted to show different ways people tried to tell others about their role in the world or simply to find their place in the universe. I think we managed to help readers see that poets quite often tried to explore this topic. Notably, poets who lived in the 19th and 20th century (as well as our contemporaries) were looking for answers to these questions, which appear to be eternal.

Importantly, each poet tends to come to his/her own conclusions. Some try to attract other people’s attention while other poets are focused on the search for their identity. I believe the differences are due to different historical premises and trends that existed at different periods. People are bound to live in the world of many rules and they have to find their way to comply with them. It is also noteworthy that we encouraged readers to think critically and implement their own brief literary analysis of several works. Readers could also come to quite unexpected conclusions and they could understand the way they see themselves and others around them. I believe our presentation contributed significantly to the discussion of the concepts under study.

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Integration of the Course Focus on “Reading Cultural Crossroads”

As has been mentioned above, our presentation touches upon such topics as identity and culture. Thus, we analyzed the way different poets see themselves in this world and the way they see the world. Interestingly, each poet (at some point in his/her life) found him/herself at cultural crossroads. Each poet chose his/her own way and these ways helped readers find their own places and choose the path. Of course, there were other topics such as life, death, past, present, family, and loneliness. However, all these aspects can be regarded as the background for the search of oneself in the modern world where different ethnicities live in diverse communities.

Learning Outcomes

I would like to note that there are numerous learning outcomes for me. First of all, I managed to see many aspects of culture and identity. This is an important issue for me and I opened up a number of horizons for myself. Now, I see different ways to approach ethnic and cultural identity. Sharing ideas on the matter with my peers was also a valuable experience.

One of the most important learning outcomes is, of course, skills in literary analysis. I understand that literary criticism can be very helpful as it provides such information as the poet’s background, peculiarities of life in a certain period, poet’s notes and words on the work or on life, and so on. All these data help have a complete picture and understand what the poet wanted to say.

I also started paying more attention to details. The poem by Tim Yu made me a more critical thinker, so-to-speak. I pay attention to the historical context, information concerning the poet, particular literary devices he/she is using, and so on. Now, I am very critical when reading poetry. Interestingly, I manage to trace different meanings and I am able to analyze poems in a broader context. Now, I am able to enjoy the world of each poem to the fullest, as I know a lot about cultural and historical issues of many different periods.

Works Cited

Asselineau, Roger. The Evolution of Walt Whitman. Chicago, IL: University of Iowa Press, 1999. Print.

Poetry. Web.

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"Reading Cultural Crossroads: Whitman’s and Yu’s Poems." StudyCorgi, 7 May 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Reading Cultural Crossroads: Whitman’s and Yu’s Poems." May 7, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Reading Cultural Crossroads: Whitman’s and Yu’s Poems." May 7, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Reading Cultural Crossroads: Whitman’s and Yu’s Poems." May 7, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Reading Cultural Crossroads: Whitman’s and Yu’s Poems'. 7 May.

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