Presented by the Library of Congress
August 31, 2005
Colonial times the "open road" has been a potent symbol and
provocative myth, mixed
firmly into the foundation of the United States. It has also been a recurring
and powerful literary
motif; expressed in Walt Whitman's' 'Song of the Open Road' and other
poetic works, in the
writings of Mark Twain, the transcendental musings of wanderers like Henry
John Muir, in the landscape photography of William Henry Jackson and in
the fiction of writers
like Jack London and Jack Kerouac.
traces the birth and growth of this evocative concept through the words
images of those
who helped define this nation, its ideas and ideals.
of the Open Road
“A foot 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,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road..."
2nd floor gallery
Curator: Library of Congress
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This page was modified
March 6, 2008