Walt Whitman His poetry externs the Transcendentalists’ joy in nature to alove for humanity in all its manifestations. Whitmans verse become a sweeping catalogue of America
Biography1819 1830 1846 • He was • He left • He born in school. becomes Long editor of Island the Brooklyn Eagle.
1855 1876, 81-89 1892 • The first edition • Whitman • Whitman of produced died on Leaves further March of editions 26. Grass. of Leaves of Grass
Analysis of Leaves of Grass This book is notable for its delight in and praise of the senses 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.
Free Verse It is a poetry that has a A child said What is the irregular rhythm and grass? fetching it to line length and that me with full hands. attempts to avoid any How could I answer predetermined verse the child? I do not structure; instead, it know what it is any uses the cadences of more than he. natural speech.
Themes Democracy As a Way of The Cycle of Growth and The Beauty of the Life Death Individual• Whitman envisioned • Whitman’s poetry • He imagined a democracy not just as a reflects the vitality and democratic nation as a political system but as a growth of the early unified whole way of experiencing the United States. composed of unique world. • Describing the life cycle but equal individuals• He imagined democracy of nature helped • Every voice and every as a way of Whitman contextualize part will carry the same interpersonal the severe injuries and weight within the single interaction and as a way trauma he witnessed democracy—and thus for individuals to during the Civil War— every voice and every integrate their beliefs linking death to life individual is equally into their everyday helped give the deaths beautiful. Despite this lives. of so many soldiers pluralist view, Whitman meaning. still singled out specific individuals for praise in his poetry, particularly Abraham Lincoln.
Motifs • These lists create a sense of expansiveness in the poem, as they mirror the growth of the United States. List • Lists are another way of demonstrating democracy in action: in lists, all items possess equal weight, and no item is more important than another item in the list. Human • With physical contact comes spiritual communion: two touching bodies form one individual unit of togetherness. Several poems praise the bodies of both women and men, describing them at work, at play, and Body interacting. Rhythm • Often, Whitman begins several lines in a row with the same word or and phrase, a literary device called anaphora.Incantation
Symbols • Throughout Whitman’s poetry, plant life symbolizes both growth and multiplicity. • Rapid, regular plant growth also stands in for the rapid,Plants regular expansion of the population of the United States. • Whitman’s interest in the self ties into his praise of the individual. Whitman links the self to the conception of poetry throughout his work, envisioning the self as theThe self birthplace of poetry. Most of his poems are spoken from the first person, using the pronoun I.