Walt Whitman Poems
Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson: a Comparative Review of American Poets
Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson
Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson were two very contrasting poets that wrote during the writing period of the American Renaissance between 1830 and 1865. This period happened around the end of the Civil War, and many of Whitman’s writings had to do with it, such as “A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim.” Whitman also wrote with a bigger sense of nationalism, like he did in “I Hear America Singing.” Dickinson, on the other hand, was almost the opposite. She preferred a more solemn and simplistic writing style, with almost a sense of calmness. Whitman was broad, large, and bold in his writing, whereas Dickinson was a minimalist writer. Socially, Whitman was an extrovert, while Dickinson was a secluded and shy introvert. Both of their personalities were implemented in their writing. This is prominent in many of her poems. Whitman and Dickinson were both key contributors to American literature; they differ in some ways, and are similar in others.
One of Emily Dickinson’s poems was “If you Were Coming in the Fall.” This poem is a love poem, and very smooth compared to Whitman’s writing style. When contrasted to Whitman’s piece called “Song of Myself,” it has a very different tone. Dickinson’s poem is a love poem about how if she knew when her astray love would return to her, she would do everything to make time go by faster; however, since she does not know when that time will be, she doesn’t find this waiting very appealing. Whitman’s poem, “Song of Myself,” is a list of different scenarios that the speaker was a part of, with the point being to show that there are many different views of America and the American dream, and everything is always changing. Dickinson’s poem is more romantic, while Whitman’s piece is more proud and diverse. However, this is not the only way these two writings are different.
Dickinson’s poem, “If you Were Coming in the Fall,” has somewhat of a rhyme scheme; the first stanza has an ABCB rhyme scheme, with the third, fourth, and fifth stanzas following suit. The second stanza is almost the same rhyme scheme, but line 6 and 8 is internal rhyme. In Whitman’s poem, “Song of Myself,” there is basically no rhyme scheme. In fact, the stanzas in this poem vary in the amount of lines, and there is rarely any structure; this is true for most of Whitman’s poetry. Also, Dickinson’s poem has a rhythm to it when read, while Whitman’s is read like any other story. Whitman wrote in free verse most of the time, including in this poem, and Emily Dickinson wrote with a structure to it. In summary, when it comes to the actual rhythm and rhyme of the poem, Whitman almost completely throws it all to the wind, while Dickinson wrote hers in a very structured, rhythmic style.
Not only are the poems structured differently, they also have very different tones to them. Dickinson’s tone has a sense of hopelessness in the last stanza. The speaker is “uncertain of the length” and it goads her; this implies a sense of reluctance in the speaker. For most of Whitman’s poem, the speaker is very sure of everything. Also, Dickinson’s poem is more melodramatic and solemn, while Whitman’s is bold. For example, in stanza two, the speaker sees the land and shouts with joy. This is very contrasted to Dickinson and her uncertainty. Also, the speaker had a fun time after digging for clams. Overall, the message behind Whitman’s poem is that everyone has different perspectives of the American dream; while his poem tells five stories, Dickinson doesn’t focus on any stories. In fact, these two poems barely have anything in common.
When it comes to figures of speech, Dickinson and Whitman can differ. In this specific poem by Dickinson, she uses parallelism; the first four stanzas start with the word “if” followed by how long it would take for her love to come back, and how she would make it go by faster. Also, Dickinson uses metaphors is her poem while Whitman does not; for example, she says if her love was coming in the fall, she would swat the summer away like a housewife would with a fly. Dickinson also under exaggerates some things while Whitman does not. For example, Dickinson says if it takes her long lost love centuries to return to her, she’ll count them all on fingers. Although Whitman does not make understatements, he is much more descriptive than Dickinson; this is true for most of his poems. Throughout “Song of Myself,” Whitman describes each detail of every story he tells and uses lots of imagery. In the first stanza, when the speaker is looking for a place to sleep, he says it’s in the wilderness, near the mountains, on top of a pile of leaves with his dog and his gun. In the second stanza, he describes the image of a Yankee clipper on their boat, cutting through the foam and the sparkle of the water before stumbling on land. The third stanza in this poem is on the more descriptive side; it tells about a wedding between a trapper and an Indian girl; it then goes on to describe the outward appearance of the girl’s family, the appearance of the groom, then the appearance of the bride. The last stanza describes a runaway slave as having a “sweated body and bruised feet,” and just generally creates an image of the scenario. In summary, Dickinson and Whitman have very differing styles, especially in these two poems; no matter what, both of them are still very popular writers that greatly contributed to American literature.
The Representation of Individualism in Works of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson
In unit one, our main goal was to study on what qualities a unique individual has. In english, what individuality shows is a quality that makes someone unique because no one else has those qualities. The text’s that I chose is “On the Beach at Night Alone” by Walt Whitman, ”Fame is a Fickle Food” by Emily Dickinson, and “From Nature” by Ralph Emerson. All of these text represent individualism. In unit one individualism was represented by fame, connection, and unity.
To begin with, in unit 1, the demonstration of unique individualism in America was represented by connection. For example, in the text “On the Beach at Night Alone” by Walt Whitman he says “A vast similitude interlocks all, All spheres,grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets, All distances of place however wide. “Whitman (Lines 4-6)” This quote from Whitman represents how everyone is connected and that we are all one. He also describes in the quote that America is all connected no matter the race or religion. Thus Whitman’s text “On the Beach at Night Alone” represented unique individualism in America through connection.
In addition, in unit 1, the demonstration of unique individualism in America was represented by fame. For example, in the text “Fame is a Fickle Food” by Emily Dickinson she said “Fame is a fickle food upon a shifting plate” (Dickinson Lines1-2) This qoute represents fame because the quote explains how fame is constantly changing by fame is not stable. In addition, Dickinson is trying to explain what fame is like in America Thus she claims that fame in America is unstable and you never know what could happen because its on a “shifting plate” Therefore Emily Dickinson text “Fame is a fickle food” represented unique individualism in America though fame.
Lastly, in unit 1, the demonstration of unique individualism in America was represented by unity. For example, in the text “From Nature” by Emerson he states that “The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister, is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable” (Emerson 2) This quote Emmerson emphasizes that man and nature are in unity, He goes on to explain further how man and nature and connected because whatever a man does, nature does, vice versa. Therefore Emmerson believes that in America, man and nature are an example of Unity because they are all one and connected. This shows Emersons text “From Nature” represented unique individualism in America through unity.
In conclusion, in unit 1, the demonstration of unique individualism in America was represented by connection, fame and unity. Throughout this essay I discovered what it means to be an individual. This was done through understanding what made these authors unique during the time. The text that influenced me during this unit was “On the BEach at Night Alone” by Walt Whitman, “Fame is a Fickle Food” by Emily Dickinson, and “From Nature” by ralph Emerson. This being said, there is no doubt that each individual author is unique for their time because of their ability to write about their personal experiences and views about america through their expressive literature.
The Stark Contrast Between Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson’s work have various contrasts. Compared with Dickinson’s brief and apparently straightforward words, Whitman’s is long and regularly unpredictable. However, both twentieth-century scholars share a few likenesses when dove into completely. Although their methodology’s distinction, they frequently manage similar subjects, and both created their own special style of writing.
Dickinson’s compositions on death is progressively mind-boggling and incomprehensible, and unquestionably dark. She illustrates death, as an observing ruler or a convincing lover. In one of her progressively most -known poems, ‘Because I could not stop for Death’, passing resembles a compassionate courter. A considerable portion of her different poems are about the moment when someone dies. In ‘I heard a Fly buzz-when I died’, Dickinson endeavors to clarify what exactly occurs at the limit of death. She portrays the experience as tangled as she endeavors to characterize that minute with striking pictures and sounds. Despite the fact that Whitman and Dickinson expound on death in various settings, both appear to feel obligated to handle the issue more than once. They continue depicting it in their works. It is similarly evident that neither one of them felt threatened from death. Whitman refers to his approaching passing in the last stanza of ‘Song of Myself’. He continues utilizing nature as a symbolism for the man’s connection to death in his works.
Truly, the two of them utilized death and nature as a typical point however their poems are vastly independent. Whitman’s style of composing is exceptionally bright, energized and extended, and the utilization of catalogues, diction and Free Verse, for he was the principal individual to do as such, are being applied. Dickinson’s state of articulation is dark, short, baffling and continually about the hunt of the spirit either previously or after death. The stark contrast between these two authors allows the reader to look at the concept of death from drastically different perspectives.
In their personal lives Dickenson and Whitman were very different. Emily Dickenson was a very closed person who did not speak much, in fact at one moment in her life she stopped talking as a whole, which caused her to keep her poems short and use slant rhyme. Walt Whitman on the other hand was a very loud and open person who did not fear on how he would express himself and could talk for hours, thus the long poems that are easy to read and understand.
Contrasting Personalities of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman
Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, while considered extraordinary poets of their time, had contrasting personalities and took inspiration from different ideas. Whitman was popular and forthright; while Dickinson was introverted and bashful. Due to having distinctive personalities, they wrote about different ideas.
Dickinson’s poem, “324,” is about the journey of someone understanding God in their own personal way, rather than worshipping in a church. Whitman’s poem, “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer,” is about someone who grows bored of an astronomy class, so he decides to go outside and figure out how everything works himself. Although these poets had their individual tones and rhyme schemes, they had a similar idea toward imagery and Romanticism.
The tone and rhyme scheme is what makes the writing style of Emily Dickinson’s “324” unique. She keeps a repetitive pattern throughout this poem, which was very captivating. Dickinson writes, ““Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice – / I just wear my wings – / And instead of tolling with the Bell, the Church – / Our little Sexton – sings.” Her use of dashes in this poem indicate that the tone is lighter and more laid back. She is explaining how everyone can worship God in a different way, going to church isn’t needed. She continues to explain this in her poem by writing, “Some keep the Sabbath going to church – / I keep it, staying at home – / With a Bobolink for a Chorister – / And an Orchard, for a Dome.” The overall tone of this poem is very relaxed and people can relate to it. On the other hand, Whitman’s writing style is unique due to a different type of tone and rhyme scheme. In his poem, “When I heard the Learn’d Astronomer,” there was hardly any rhyme at all. Whitman writes, “Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself, / In the mystical most night-air, and from time to time, / Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars,” as to sound as he was talking to someone; making the poem more conversational. The tone of this passage is more lethargic and heavy than Dickinson’s.
Whitman writes, “When I sitting heard the / astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room / How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,” he is talking about the student becoming bored; which is making the readers disinterested. However, many students can relate to this poem because a lot of today’s school is lecturing; there aren’t a lot of hands-on activities. Whitman and Dickinson are as similar as they are different, however. Emily Dickinson was able to incorporate imagery and Romanticism in her poem, as well as pulling inspiration from nature. She painted a picture of her backyard and explained how she is able to worship there, instead of a church. Whitman was also able to fuse in some Romanticism and imagery in his poem. The student in his poem was able to escape his astrology course by observing it himself; by observing the natural world.
In conclusion, you may have two poets with contrasting personalities and varying poetic ideas, but both Dickinson and Whitman were able to persuade people by using the same poetic devices, making them some of the most incredible poets of their time.
Read About Sufis – Walt Whitman
Who is the most influential poet in American history? Walt Whitman is one of the most well known poets in history, and he has made a big impact on poetry and writing in itself. Walt Whitman wrote many poems in a somewhat unorthodox fashion at the time. Walt Whitman was arguably America’s most popular and influential poets, but he did not start that way. A well known quote from one of his poems “Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same”. Walt Whitman was born May 31, 1819 in West Hills, Long Island. He was the second of nine children, and his parents were a working class people who had little to no schooling, but Whitman was able to get schooling. He was different from his family there was always something special about him. Whitman was extremely bright and was like that from a young age. He finished all of his formal schooling by age 11 which was a big accomplishment for him and his family because he was the first one to get proper schooling. Whitman was a first generation American he was born right after the American Revolution.
The next 5 years of his life he learned the printing trade working with a newspaper. By 1836 Whitman was known as Mr. Whitman as he taught school in Long Island for a while. Also at this time he went out and published his own weekly newspaper called Long-Islander. By 1841 Whitman decided to move to the big apple to start pursuing his love for journalism and writing. He wrote short stories and little poems at this point in time were indistinguishable from the more popular works of that day, his first novel was Franklin Evans, or the inebriate. For a couple years after that he edited newspapers and even contributed to them as well. He ended up later getting fired from the Brooklyn Eagle due to his political differences with the owner. Whitman always had a liberal way of thinking, and he was against slavery which the owner of the Brooklyn Eagle did not agree with which in turn got whitman fired. Growing up in Long Island is what gave Whitman that way of thinking because most people in that area where liberal. Another relative quote from Whitman”Battles are lost in the same spirit they are won”. Not much is known on why Whitman changed from a journalist and hack writer to a revolutionary poet. The first addition of Leaves of Grass Whitman started it with him saying he was the “poet of the people” and was dressed in workman’s clothes.
Whitman said that his poems would really show the greatness of the new nation amd celebrate it. ‘The Americans of all nations at any time upon the earth have probably the fullest poetical nature. The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem’. Leaves of grass was mostly about the dividing of the US when the Civil War came around. Whitman was fully against slavery and made that very clear through his works and also to people he talked too. Not long after the Civil War started, Whitman went on to search for his brother George who was reportedly wounded in action. It was reported that his brother was stationed in Virginia so that’s where Whitman went. While he was there he worked long hours volunteering to help with taking care of wounded soldiers. His time being around all the sickness and death really took its toll on him. The sight of war made him really changed his outlook on different things. After all that time of of being around all of that he became ill with hospital malaria.
Within a few months he was back to being healthy. In January 1865 he became a clerk at the Indian Bureau of the department of the interior. While the Civil War was not a great time in Whitman’s life it also was a great for him because it inspired many great works from whitman. Such as, ‘Cavalry Crossing a Ford’, ‘The Wound-Dresser,’ ‘Come Up from the Fields Father’, ‘Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night’, ‘Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim,’and ‘Year That Trembled and Reel’d Beneath Me’ Whitman was taken by the simplistic beauty, loneliness, and anguish that he felt from the war. All of these works when they were first written where not very popular. They were not very well known. In fact all of his works did not et much attention until after his death then he became extremely famous. All of these works had much in common they all had a little bit of something to do with politics. It all goes back to his very liberal way of thinking and really showed it. After the Civil War, Whitman’s writing started becoming more about soul, death, and immortality.
Source Material as a Rich Foundation for Many Literary Texts
Source material is a rich foundation for many literary texts, including novels, short stories, and poems. However, it takes a skilled author to select a source material—a character, a topic, a theme, an event, an idea, etc.—and transform it into a unique work that is truly his or her own. As you read the following selections, keep in mind that some elements of the texts were drawn from source material and used in a new and unique way.
Source material is often text, but it could also be a photograph, a statue, a painting, or even a firsthand account. Major conflicts, such as the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War II, and the Vietnam War, have become the subjects of art, thus serving as source material for literary texts. Recall the story of “Prometheus” as told by Josephine Preston Peabody. The fate of people and society, as well as Prometheus’ actions, reactions, and decisions, directly result from the war between the villainous Zeus and the Titans. Prometheus is a hero who does what he thinks is right. This character type, along with similar ideas about oppression, are also present in Anthem. While the novel that is very different from the myth, they do share some elements. As you read, you will notice that the same topics and themes come up again and again throughout literary texts.
A topic is a text’s subject, or what the text is mainly about. A theme is the lesson or universal truth that lies beneath the words. Themes are universal, meaning they can be understood by many people across time and cultures. Themes can be shared many texts and appreciated whether the reader lived 200 years ago in England or in the modern-day United States. Many authors draw upon topics and themes from source materials. But each author develops the source material differently and incorporates unique elements into his or her text so that it is not simply a duplicate of someone else’s work. This happens so often in literature that it can be unnoticeable unless you analyze what you are reading.
Here is a perfect example: The theme “love is blind” is at the very heart of William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Romeo and Juliet. The star-crossed lovers are from feuding families, but their only care is that they are in love and want to be together. The popular musical West Side Story tells essentially the same story, but the author Arthur Laurents, writing in 1961, set his version in then present-day New York City. His protagonists, Tony and Maria, fall in love although they are associated with a rival gangs. The theme remains the same, and because it is universal, people can relate to it now, just as they could in Shakespeare’s day.
Another popular theme in literature is “bravery is the face of adversity.” This theme is expressed in countless books, including Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel Gone With the Wind (in which Scarlett O’Hara must overcome the hardships of the Civil War and the years following), 1947’s The Diary of Anne Frank (in which Anne and others must hide in an attic to elude capture from the Nazis), and the 1997 movie Titanic (in which the men give up their seats in the lifeboats to women and children, among other instances of bravery). As you can see, topics, events, and characters (or real people) are just part of the text. They lead to bigger ideas and messages. The author uses his or her own imagination and style to build on the source material, conveying the ideas and messages in a fresh way that readers can enjoy.
Events of all sorts shape history and cultures, so it is not very surprising that many authors draw inspiration from these important, world-changing incidents. In fact, an author of a literary text can take one event—a war, a political movement, a new law or amendment, etc.—and create a whole new world around it. Think again about Gone With the Wind. This sweeping Civil War-era novel covers many universal themes, including:
- War sweeps up everything in its path.
- Individual freedom and independence are essential to life.
- Human life is sacred.
- Attaining ones equal rights is a necessary struggle.
In her novel, Mitchell makes the story personal to the reader by revolving the plot around Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara, who undergoes hardships in the midst of the Civil War and the fight to end slavery. Rita Williams-Garcia’s trilogy One Crazy Summer, P.S. Be Eleven, and Gone Crazy in Alabama, also works of historical fiction, follow a trio of sisters during the 1960s when the Civil Rights era takes hold and share many of the same themes as Gone With the Wind, set a century earlier. The shared themes are just as relevant in a novel about the 1960s as they are in a novel about the Civil War.
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is one of the most significant events in the history of Christianity. Christ was arrested and, after enduring six trials, was mocked, beaten, and whipped. A crown of thorns was placed atop his head. He was then made to bear a large cross over rugged ground to the place that had been deemed his execution site. Christ’s hands and feet were then nailed to the cross, where he hung for three hours under the brutal sun, then in three hours of darkness. His actions were that of a truly selfless mortal man who lived a life without sin. He knew that nobody else on Earth could live a life so without sin that he or she could enter Heaven. Therefore, Christ offered himself as a sacrifice in the place of all other mortals. To Christians, Christ’s act is viewed as the supreme sacrifice, making him Christianity’s savior.
Song 38 begins with the author talking about the “usual mistake.” In the second stanza, we learn he has been hit with mockery, insults, and “blows of the bludgeons and hammers,” and this is what he believes, incorrectly, is the true meaning of life. Whitman then goes on to mention his own “crucifixion and bloody crowning.” These direct references all relate to Christ’s crucifixion. When the author says, “I resume the overstaid fraction,” he is telling the reader that painful experiences blot out the parts of life that are kind and loving. Christ remained loving and kind, despite his ordeal. Whitman then reminds the reader that “gashes heal,” and the poem continues on with a more upbeat tone and imagery.
The Mexican-American War (1846-1848) was part of the “manifest destiny” movement, in which it was felt that the United States had the right to expand across the entire continent. In the process of pushing toward the Pacific Ocean, the United States took nearly one-third of Mexico’s land, including almost all of what is now California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Prior to the official start of the war, there were already battles, one of which occurred in the town of Goliad, Texas, in 1836. With General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and his Mexican soldiers advancing across Texas, Sam Houston ordered Colonel James W. Fannin to evacuate his men, roughly 400 of them, from Goliad. They were to retreat about 30 miles away to a town called Victoria, where they would be protected by the Guadalupe River. Houston gave his orders on March 14.
Colonel Fannin disobeyed. It is unclear why. However, by the time he ordered the retreat on March 19, it was too late. The Mexican forces, 1,400 strong, were close at hand, following on the heels of Colonel Fannin’s troops. Colonel Fannin was injured. With no food and little water and ammunition, the unprepared Texas troops were slaughtered or taken as prisoners of war. Clearly, Whitman tells the story of this disastrous battle in Song 34—everything from the number of soldiers to the retreat to Colonel Fannin’s injury to the slaughter and capture of the outnumbered troops. In his poem, Whitman paints the Texas soldiers as gallant heroes—omitting the crucial part about the colonel disobeying Houston, which undoubtedly contributed to the defeat of his troops.
In “Song of Myself, Song 34,” Whitman uses bravery as one of his themes—bravery that he associates with this actual historic event (his source material). But how do you know that bravery is a theme? What parts of the text provide evidence for the conclusion that Whitman is trying to convey this message? Just look at stanza three where Whitman describes the soldiers in this way: They were the glory of the race of rangers, Matchless with horse, rifle, song, supper, courtship, Large, turbulent, generous, handsome, proud, and affectionate. Many of these details develop the idea of courageous, well-trained young men who met an untimely demise. As a poet, Whitman does not come right out and say, “These men were brave.” He lets the reader interpret his details.
Whenever you develop your ideas about theme, search throughout the text for evidence that supports your conclusion. Your instincts about theme may be correct if you have read carefully, and there there will be details that back up your thoughts. Consider both Song 34 and Song 38 from Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself.” Although they seem quite different and deal with events that are not associated with one another—one a historic event, the other a religious event—these two songs are part of a much longer work. Therefore, it is not surprising that the author would include some themes that recur from song to song.
What is a theme that Whitman uses in both Song 34 and Song 38?
One theme that is present in both Song 34 and Song 38 is the idea that suffering unites people. In Song 34, evidence that supports this theme is “A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart, the living and dead lay together/The maim’d and mangled dug in the dirt,” which describes the suffering of the soldiers. In Song 38, an example of evidence is “trickling tears and the blows of the bludgeons and hammers!,” which alludes to Christ’s crucifixion on the cross.
For authors, source material is a deep well. The same events, themes, ideas, characters—and, yes—real-life peopleserve as the basis for countless works of literature. Authors sometimes adhere to details in the source material and sometimes transform the source material until it is almost unrecognizable. In either case, identifying and analyzing source material can greatly enhance a reader’s understanding of a text.
Overview of the Poetry Collection “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman
The poems of Leaves of Grass are loosely connected, with each representing Whitman’s celebration of his philosophy of life and humanity. This book is notable for its discussion of delight in sensual pleasures during a time when such candid displays were considered immoral. Where much previous poetry, especially English, relied on symbolism, allegory, and meditation on the religious and spiritual, Leaves of Grass (particularly the first edition) exalted the body and the material world. Influenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Transcendentalist movement, itself an offshoot of Romanticism, Whitman’s poetry praises nature and the individual human’s role in it. However, much like Emerson, Whitman does not diminish the role of the mind or the spirit; rather, he elevates the human form and the human mind, deeming both worthy of poetic praise.
In the poetry collection by Walt Whitman called, “Leaves of Grass”, the author celebrates in many different writings, his life and his ability to be a human being. The different poems inside this book focused on the pleasures of the world along with the materials in the world. This book of poems was very influenced by the fact that the transcendentalist movement was going on. Whitman was highly interested in the author, Ralph Waldo Emerson and his writings.
The different poems switch formats as far as the way they are set up. There are not rules that the author seems to follow when setting up the lines and the different parts of the poems. This book was most likely looked down on by many different people because of the amount of sexual imagery in it. The sexual content seems to be a little much and is probably not talked about in schools.
The book is sectioned into many different areas, with different names and titles. However, the focus of all of the poems seems to focus on one’s self and an individual. A lot of the poems seem to have an influence on the Civil War, where he actually served in. He related his poems to the time frame and period he wrote them but not as much as anyone else.
Whitman was one of the only authors that doesn’t speak about the time period he lives in as much, more about themselves and the different things happening in his life instead of during his time period. It’s nice to hear about other things other than the time he lives in and the history. He writes about materialistic things, how things affect life and more.
The author is an American poet that seemed to influence many people in the world with his writings. He was influenced by many; however, he influenced many others himself and was the hero of other authors. He was a very good writer and wrote about things he wanted to no matter what others seemed to say. His topics were not time period based, but they were so much better.
Analysis of the Theme of Human Nature in Walt Whitman’s Poetry
As the new world developed into a vastly growing nation, the spread of ideas and influence from Europe pushed its way into the colonies, and what would soon become the Unites States of America. Government structure and criticism of human behavior was constantly challenged throughout the growth of the America. This was an advantage for many artists to take ownership of their craft and bring out their message to the audience. Many of those who moved over across the Atlantic arrived to a new start to life, filled with what was hoped to be as a new beginning and a more optimistic society. Even though that may not have been the case initially for the growth of the country, this new slate was the beginning to how America would claim itself. Walt Whitman was one of many poets at the time who’s work helped capture the potential future of America. His work touched upon views of political progression and unity, and its resemblance to the unity of nature and life. His work was the start to a new foundation, promoting freedom of expression and self-worth.
When describing Walt Whitman’s work, the reader can experience an overflow of powerful feelings relating to the idea of man and nature. Whitman describes the importance of the identification of oneself, and an individual’s relationship to the rest of the world. He perceives the idea of “self” as a spiritual entity with can never remain constant due to the influx of ideas and change affecting it from the rest of the world, or the universe. To Whitman, our “self” is both influenced by our individual actions, as well as our relationship to the rest of the universe and its actions towards us. He emphasis our individual existence as a contributor towards the function of the world, but also that our existence is not merely a number. Described in his most famous work Song of Myself, our very scent is an, “aroma finer than prayer,” (Whitman, line 29) and our own knowledge more power than, “churches, bibles, and all the creeds.” (Whitman, line 30) The houses we build and the families we make all come from the same family tree sprouting from a common root. Every aspect of our spiritual and physical existence, from “the atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air…” (Whitman, line 6) all comes back around to its origin. Therefore, if we all come from the same beginning we must, “accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms.” (Whitman, line 10-12) Whitman’s expresses strong views towards the development of a democracy, which went against his time with other European poets whose poetry became increasingly associated with nationalism. The foundation of which America was established upon gave Whitman the right to criticize the idea of nationalism and its inapplicability towards America. He openly critics, “I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard/Nature without check with original energy.” (Whitman, lines 13-14) for he values the freedom of speech, hence what the Unites States is crafted upon. His freedom of expression is expressed through the work he writes, hence extending his views onto the world, sounding his “barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.” (Whitman, line 34) Besides writing about the indescribable beauty of nature like many poets did during his time, he described nature as not only as sacred, but in a lot of ways similar in its wild features to humanity’s untamed ways. Nature cannot be kept quiet, for it is its own “self,” in what Whitman wants to extend towards humanity and our time to claim the possession of “self.”
In comparison to European poets in the late nineteenth century, Whitman’s poetry differed in its short and direct structure and style, crafting a uniqueness only seen in his work. Similarly to European poets such as Friedrich Schlegel, both were their own creators in creation to tying romanticism in literary work. In Schlegel’s case, he was credited for using the term “romantic” to describe his work, making him one of the first artists to combine emotional connotation into an imaginative form throughout his writings. His work introduced the idea of individualism, spontaneity, freedom from rules, and beliefs that imagination is superior to reason than devotion to beauty. He displayed these romantic views, whereas Whitman went on to extend them. However, both poets provided society a different glance at life, as opposed to what was already spoon-fed to them throughout history. Their new ways of thinking brought influence into what the future of America and Europe would look like, for once again times brought change but this time would bring some hope, especially after the break of the civil war in the states.
Many forms of art immerged once again, just as it had done during the Renaissance and in history after. This new form of art considered humanity’s relationship towards nature, which found to be easily described through text such as the poetry that took place. Though many poets went about publishing their work, the ones that were able to stand out provided a voice, such as Walt Whitman. He created and started a new style of art in comparison to the previously established poetic norms. The traditional way of writing poetry was discarded in his work and turned in favor of a more personal voice. His work seems to touch the reader directly, in lines that didn’t rely on rigid meter and instead moved with open arms. Through his inner conflicts, and the conflicts of many common Americans, Whitman was able to allow his work to speak for them. He became not only a writer, but a voice for the majority of Americans who weren’t associated with higher class. He helped to expose the fears that many everyday Americans had to face, therefore allowing his work to be attainable and accessible. His universal language provided a solution to difficult situations, and the hope of growing from them.
When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer: How Walt Whitman Illustrated the Intellectual and Emotional Side of a Person
In every human, there is a split between the intellectual and the emotional. The intellectual is the rational sensible part of a person, and the emotional is the feelings and emotions connected to a person. In order for a normal individual to function properly, he or she needs to balance these two parts and use each one in its proper place. For example, if a mother would think rationally about having children, she might come to the conclusion that the means do not justify the ends. Therefore, it is imperative that she considers it from an emotional standpoint in order to understand that even though logically having children doesn’t make sense, it is the most amazing thing a woman can do.
In the poem “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer,” Walt Whitman describes a simple man listening to a lecture by an astronomer. From the first line, “When I heard the learn’d astronomer,” Whitman shows us the intellect of the individual in the poem. The fact that he wrongly spells “learned” reveals that the individual does not possess a high intellect. It even seems rather comical that such an individual would be attending a lecture about astronomy.
“When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me”—Here we see that the individual is unaware of the meaning behind the numbers but simply refers to them all in a childish manner as figures in columns. Whitman makes it feel as if the figures were a dark, scary wall towering over the individual, cutting him off from what everyone else seems to be looking at.
In the line “When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,” Whitman seems to be painting a picture of a classroom, the center of the intellect.
It seems as if the individual is about to take a test and be graded among his peers. Again, we find a trace of fear hidden behind these childish words—the last remains of any self-esteem washed away by a river of numbers and equations.
“When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture room”–Here, just like in the first example, we have to wonder what this individual is doing sitting in a lecture hall listening to an astronomer. It seems obvious from what Whitman is showing us in terms of spelling that the individual is far below the intellectual standard needed to understand an astronomer’s lecture. The last part of the line brings a metaphorical tear reminiscent of a young child being shunned away from a group of friends. The individual doesn’t know why the crowd is clapping, but he knows he is missing out on something.
“How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick”–From here we seem to get an answer out of the first question we posed: What is this individual doing in a lecture about astronomy? Whitman gives us a hint by the use of the word ”unaccountable.” It seems as though the individual wants to sound intelligent; he is yearning for a change to show the world that he is not an outcast, unable to relate to modern humans.
Rather, he is trying to show everyone that he is like you and I, a person capable of appreciating astronomy and art.
“Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself” –Now comes the realization that he is different from the rest of society, the implication of the words “by myself” ringing in the empty world around him. He is a loner, unable to withstand the tortures of a lecture while all the people around him seem to be basking in the illumination of astronomy. He asks what makes him so different, but no one is there to give him a reply.
Whitman gives us a beautiful wrap-up: “In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time. Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.” After being rejected and shunned from the intellectual side of the world, he now reflects on what he has been able to retain that others have not: an emotional vantage point. What makes the stars perfect to him is the fact that they remain pure and untainted by the reality of what they are. To an intellectual mind, stars are no more than balls of gas up in the sky, but to this individual they can be anything from old kings looking down upon the earth and guiding us to gods in heaven helping out the weak and shining down on them. To him, perfection comes from the ability to feel emotion rather than from a purely intellectual way of looking at the world.
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman: a Critical Review
Theory of Poetry in Preface to Leaves of Grass
Walt Whitman was one of the most influential and most famous poets of American Literature. He was born in 1819 in Long Island. Preface to Leaves of Grass is his most important work: a volume of twelve poems and preface. In its second edition it was extended to thirty-three poems. He died in 1892.
Walt Whitman was one of the American poets who contributed a great deal to American poetry. He tried to make and combine different kinds of forms of poetry and how it all should be understood. In Leaves of Grass combining lyrical and epic form from of poetry made a great success. Trying to find “American Identity”, was a great representation in this work. He tried to explain that identity of one people is not contained in individuals, but it is found in one nation. Whitman considered this identity theory as being in society as a whole; “it cannot be described so easily, but only felt”. his journey through Preface to Leaves of Grass is actually both spiritual and physical. Spiritual journey is represented through the very own soul and the nature of human beings, and as for physical it is represented as his journey across America looking for himself. Through Whitman’s poetry it can be seen that he was a great believer in “human nature”, and nature in general, even though Preface to Leaves of Grass might be seen as an egoistical work, at first, but in deeper meaning it is about desire for life: for knowing where one individual belongs in the society of the time. Leaves of Grass is giving an important statement that American people have a “poetic nature”, and they are trying to blend the historical facts, present life, and the future living into one, and that makes them the greatest poets. For Whitman, The United States is a great place to have a success in writing poetry because of the culture, gender and different types of racial backgrounds of people which interact with each other daily. Being concerned with what a poet should be and mean to everyone is actually explained in his Preface. He gives a strong statement, more of a fact, that every poet should be a great influence on other people with the quality of ones writing. Whitman implies in his Preface to Leaves of Grass that there is no better teacher of life and better philosopher of life than a poet. Poetry should be connecting people and not giving differences between them. It should be connected with readers soul and make him learn all the time. Turning small things that one writer sees, into something big and important is what is crucial for making poetry. Being a great lover of nature, Whitman makes his readers to love the life, and love there own identity and be who they are: to have a great patience and not go harsh on things. He makes a distinction from other poets that “we should believe in ourselves with our soul and body both, and be one great poem: that only we can write.”.
Walt Whitman had a huge role in making American Literature: poetry to be precise, and always will be the most influential one in American Literature. In Preface to Leaves of Grass, Whitman describes values that make one individual a great poet, he gives a great comment how poetry should be developed and what it should mean to people who read it. Whitman was very sensitive poet of great value for poetry and all his poems have a strong statements and very powerful messages that every reader as well as poet should be aware of.