Essay: The Journey

The Journey Essay

“Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman


What about Thoreau’s journey into the woods at Walden Pond to “live deliberately”? Or Walt Whitman’s “perpetual journey” in his Song of Myself? Let’s take a look…

From Walden, Chapter Two: “Where I Lived and What I Lived For”

Henry David Thoreau

[16]    I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion . . .


Write a Reflective Essay describing a journey you have taken, or would like to take. This could be an actual journey to a particular location, or it could be a journey of self-discipline or self-discovery. Be creative. Remember, a reflective essay is mostly narration—the telling of the story. Somewhere in your essay, you pause to reflect on this journey’s significance to you. This could be at the beginning or at the end. While it is most common to have the reflection at the end of the essay, either way can be effective.

Additional suggestions and instructions:

  • Organize your ideas before you begin writing. Make sure you have enough to say.
  • Make sure that you can “put into words” the significance of this journey to you.
  • Make an outline or timeline, then decide where you will begin.
  • Write simply in your natural voice.
  • Use rich, colorful language. It is this description that makes your narrative long enough, and that captivates the reader.
  • Create one or two fresh metaphors and/or similes to enliven your writing. Try to make comparisons that are unusual and original. However, these should not be forced.
  • Consider including a few lines from a poem or song, if it would add depth to your essay. (This does not count in meeting the length requirements of the essay:)
  • Give your essay a title. It can be something you come up with, or simply, “The Journey.”
  • Final Draft Length1½-2 pages typed, double-spaced. May be longer, but not shorter.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s