Poetry and Walt Whitman Essay

Submitted By 303Josie
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Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman
The poet Emily Dickinson never read the writings of poet, Walt Whitman because she heard his poems were disgraceful. Ironically, if she had published more of her work, it would have received the same negativity. The differences in the writing style, personality and living environment of the two writers outweigh the similarities. They both defied the boundaries and rules of American writing with little acceptance from the authors and society of their lifetime. Today, America regards them as the most significant poets of the nineteenth century because they revolutionized modern poetry with their different writing styles (Lasner). Unfortunately, this recognition came after their deaths.
Emily Dickinson came from a wealthy family who put her in the best schools. She attended Mount Holyoke College for one year before returning home. Walt Whitman came from a large, poor family. Whitman dropped out of school at the age of eleven so he could work to help support his family. During his lifetime, he held various jobs such as a journalist, teacher, a government clerk, and nurse in the Civil War. In addition, Dickinson corresponded with friends and acquaintances through letters because she rarely left her house and invited very few guests to see her. She lived a very secluded life, while Whitman socialized with friends, acquaintances and other writers (Lasner). Even though most Americans did not like Whitman’s work, he published several books of poems during his lifetime (Hass). Conversely, Dickinson published only two of her poems. After her death, her family found and published over 1800 poems and letters (Lasner).
Although, the Bible and Shakesphere influenced both of their writings, they applied this knowledge differently. While both poets wrote about nature, love, self and death, Whitman used feelings, wit and wisdom to write about democracy, war and emancipated manhood. He abandoned the restraints and conventions of structure and wrote long poems in the form of free verse; poetry that does not rhyme or have a regular meter (Townsend). In one of his most famous poems, “Song of Myself”, he wrote, “And as to you death, and you bitter hug of mortality, it is idle to try to alarm me”. Dickinson wrote a poem stating, “Because I could not stop for Death-- He kindly stopped for me—”. Dickinson did not…