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A comparison of the influence of walt whitman and emily dickinson in the american poetry

Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson are two of the most famous poets from the time period who daringly revolutionized both the subject and style of American poetry. While both are famous trailblazers the two are vastly different. The poets come from opposite backgrounds, and while they do write from some shared inspiration sources, they do so in distinctive ways.

Together, they have helped to shape American poetry, and their influences can still be seen today. This allowed the two poets to push through the standard mold of poems to invent their own styles. Whitman uses extensive nature imagery throughout his works, such as in Song of Myself: Dickinson also uses nature imagery in some of her poems: Additionally, both poets submitted some of their pieces to politically-based works.

Compare and contrast Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman.

Whitman was published by Democrat, while Dickinson was published by Republican. Interestingly, there is speculation that both poets may have had homosexual relationships Baym 81. This, however, is where the similarities between the two run short, as they are more opposite than they are alike. Walt Whitman seems carefree and easy going, both in his life and his poems. Whitman grew up in the working class in a family of Quakers Baym 20.

He worked many jobs throughout his life, including working for many magazines and printers. Later in life, he took up nursing wounded soldiers, about which he was very passionate Baym 22. His time as a nurse greatly influenced his writing, and the dying men surrounding him moved him to question the morality of war.

During his life, Whitman wanted badly to become famous for his writing. Although he was not immediately popular, other than with Emerson, whom he deeply admired, people eventually warmed up to his work. Toward the end of his life, Whitman even had an expensive mausoleum erected in which he wanted to be buried so that everyone would remember how famous he was Baym 23.

However, he does play with other poetic devices, such as repetition, alliteration, and stanza breaks, that give his poems life. Whitman wrote extensively about nature and the average man. He also wrote a lot about soldiers and war later in life.

  1. Whitman grew up in the working class in a family of Quakers Baym 20.
  2. Whitman uses extensive nature imagery throughout his works, such as in Song of Myself.
  3. Whitman wrote extensively about nature and the average man.

His poems are generally long and winding with intense imagery. They also seem very personal, as if Whitman is telling you everything he has ever thought within his poems. Whitman does not hold back — in fact, his poems are sometimes too revealing, which garnered criticism, especially when the topic involved sex or the human body Baym 22. Overall, Whitman can be seen as a bohemian who wanted to join the artists whom he admired, most notably Emerson, in literary fame.

Comparison and Contrast of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman

Emily Dickinson, on the other hand, was very structured and conservative. She was born into an upper-class Calvinist family, which meant that she never had to work Baym 80.

Dickinson lived with her parents for her whole life and did not leave the house much, leading to tales of her being a recluse.

A comparison of walt whitman and emily dickinson

However, she did have a few friends and possibly some love interests, which may have inspired some of her love poems Baym 81. Unlike Whitman, Dickinson did not seek fame during her life. In fact, very few of her poems were published until after her death. She was very well read; in fact, influences from Charles Dickens, the Bronte sisters, Elizabeth Browning, and even the Bible can be seen in her works Baym 80. The poems she wrote indicate that she was fascinated with the concepts of death, love, and religion.

She explores these through the use of figurative language, such as the personification in poem 479: Rather than throwing away all poetic structure, she added her own stylistic touch — most notably, dashes and capitalization. Dickinson wrote in a very strict fourteener meter that is commonly seen in nursery rhymes and church hymns.

Works Cited

However, within these poems, she covers serious topics and often surprises the reader with her treatment of a topic or the conclusion she draws from it. For example, in her poem 236, she basically puts down those who go to church and says that she is better off talking directly to God in her own home Dickinson 84.

This would have been a fairly scandalous idea for the devoutly religious, even though the poem is presented in a simple, almost sing-song fashion that is enhanced by her ABCB rhyme scheme, which is consistent throughout all of her works. Both poets will be remembered as innovators who changed the landscape of American poetry by thinking outside of the box. Works Cited Baym, Nina, gen. The Norton Anthology of American Literature.