10 pages/≈2750 words
Literature & Language
Walt Whitman (Research Paper Sample)
It is a known fact that the US has its piece of history when it comes to historical developments. In this development process, there have been a number of societal rots that have been marred by inequality and continued human oppression. In the following years after independence and during slavery, the nation did not address the needs of all people; hence it led to issues relating to human equality and provision of freedom that had not been provided for in this country. With this type information, this paper is an essay discussion which looks into the life of Walt Whitman and his poems in detail source..
Logan DewittSenior EnglishMarch 8, 2012Walt Whitman Abstract It is a known fact that the US has its piece of history when it comes to historical developments. In this development process, there have been a number of societal rots that have been marred by inequality and continued human oppression. In the following years after independence and during slavery, the nation did not address the needs of all people; hence it led to issues relating to human equality and provision of freedom that had not been provided for in this country. With this type information, this paper is an essay discussion which looks into the life of Walt Whitman and his poems in detail. In relation to the poem, Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes who is known to have been influenced by Whitman, we can say they were patriotic. It is through the study of literatures like poetry that critical message affecting the society can be shared. Whitman is known for his controversy but at the same time to articulate his views without the fear of oppression. Whitman's earlier poem I Hear America Singing is also a classical example of how he was able to spread democracy and freedom of speech. In the end we will see that his desire and optimism were greatly on the land of America to be equally democratic while giving all people the opportunity to share the American dream. Walt Whitman In 1819, Whitman was born to a family in the long Island. It should be noted that he was blessed with a humble life even before he became a renowned author. Growing up in a religious community full of Quakers shaped him the man he later became. Some of his obsession as a kid was reading works by Ralph Emerson (Stacy, Multitudes). It was his belief that Ralph ideas and theologies were in close proximity to his. Leaves of Grass was the first book Whitman published. He did this at the age of thirty five, and thus the book made successful. The book appealed to many other poets worldwide thus at that age then, his talents were immense and surprised many poet critics (Whitman, Black Cat Poems). Before becoming a poem writer, he worked in a local newspaper therefore his talents in writing poems were unknown to many. The main reason behind him fired from the newspaper was because he was an abolitionist (Elizabeth, Congress Library). It has been written that Whitman inspiration to write came after he made trips to New Orleans and New York. There have been assumptions that the lovely sceneries of the countryside were his source of inspiration to write. Though, this has never been proven. Nonetheless, his first book was the beginning of a great writing career (Elizabeth, Congress Library). Whitman always saw himself as the first genuine American poet. His poetry works mainly symbolized freedom and democracy while other of his poems did poses emotions and beliefs. Afterwards, there were publications of editions of Leaves of Grass. The time frame of these publications has been given as 1856 and 1860 respectively. The most notable thing about these editions was the new poems and revisions of earlier ones (Elizabeth, Congress Library). During this time, Whitman had moved to another local newspaper (The Brooklyn Daily) where he was the editor. In addition, he was also helping his father in his carpentry work (Whitman, Black Cat Poems). In 1862, he moved down south to take care of his brother who had been injured in the war. There he volunteered as a nurse to the military units till 1867. While he was working as a nurse, he composed several war poems that were later to be published in another edition of Leaves of Grass in 1867. In one of his notebooks, Whitman noted that he was not able to accomplish as much as had intended (Whitman 2). He died in 1892, while hoping that the future generation will be able to appreciate his poems much more. It is my belief that his wish came true, as he is one of the best American poets of all time. In this paper, we will be able to look at some of Whitman's works (Whitman, Nineteenth Literature Criticism). Whitman will and is forever living in the minds of Americans as one of the greatest poets. His poets are still been read and treasured all over the world. I can clearly state that he was an original thinker who was not afraid of controversy and what other people thought of him (Baym, Norton Journals). He shaped his own way of poetry. Critics have researched his poems extensively and found no trace of his poems in earlier poetry works. According to Whitman, the source of his poems was "beautiful blood and beautiful brainâ€, himself (Baym, Norton Journals). This means that his poems were not influenced or affected in any way by authors before him. This can be seen through his emphasis on been original and use of paradox. Ralph who happened to be a fellow non conformist can be said to have influenced Whitman to some point (Baym, Norton Journals). Ralph always stressed on originality while been able to think for oneself without been aided by other people's wisdom. Nevertheless, it can be said Ralph swayed Whitman while Whitman may have also affected Ralph thoughts for the two were close friends (Baym, Norton Journals). They also had respect for each other's mind. Thoreau was also a member and friend of this group as he happened to be a non conformist (Baym, Norton Journals). It is worth noting that Whitman had an interest in politics as he happened to have a political career under the Democratic Party. At other time he has be noted as to have spoke in Democratic Party rallies (Whitman, Nineteenth Literature Criticism). Fortunately, he is not remembered for his role in politics but his work in poetry. He wrote his poetry without rhymes, but in rolling and rhapsodic irregular lengths. His new style was one of the things that separated him from the traditional poets. Whitman was not afraid to frequently use gross, blunt and clearest words. He did not shy away from these words when they came on to his lips and in turn he ended making some people nervous (Whitman, Children of Adam). In the end he did not withdraw from taboo subjects no matter how much it could be disgusting people of his time. In his poem "Children of Adamâ€, it can be witnessed that he was not concerned about offending people. This poem can be viewed to be leisurely, sensual and visibly sexual. Whitman argues out that in this poem he is singing out the songs of procreation (Whitman, Children of Adam). He does not try to cover up the agenda or implication of this poem and he does not cover up hi insinuation of sex. Whitman openly discuses sex, and he shows his artistic side by describing women and men as he view them; attractive. He asserts this in one of the passages when he states that, "The love of the body of man or woman balks account and the body itself balks accountâ€. In the next line he states that the bodies of men and women have to be perfect in order to create that attraction necessary for sex to take place. As I have stated above, these assertions by Whitman can only mean that if we believe that we have beautiful bodies, we should not be ashamed of loving and even desiring them. This should be noted to be irrespective of an individual's gender. The description of the woman as a "female form with loving flesh" that can arouse the man shows as that Whitman was not afraid to describe or paint objects as he though them to be. Basing on the fact that Whitman tends to desire to touch a man, proves that he has some bisexual tendencies. Some passages further, he discusses firemen sensually while describing their bodies in a sexual manner. It shows that he has immense appreciation or attraction to muscles as they are associated with male bodies. It is worth noting that he shows this appreciation to the male bodies than female bodies. This therefore illustrates further that he find the male body desirable and attractive. He has done as gone far to state that, "Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousness of his sexâ€. This is what he affirms in his work "Children of Adamâ€. During the closing of the poem, Whitman tends to reiterate the beauty that these two kinds of bodies bring (Whitman, Children of Adam). He states that both the male and female bodies are sacred and need to respected and loved. With the choice of the word scared, makes it interesting in the fact that it sounds religious in a poem concentrated on sex. It is my belief that Whitman could have used the word sacred to either prick the religious readers while showing the extent to which the human body is revered. To him the human body is scared and by expressing his thoughts shows how much he kept his word. This clearly shows us that he was never afraid of the public opinion. He was always expressing his beliefs and no one could stop him from doing so even through the threats of censorships. Unlike other poets, Whitman was not afraid to try new things. He dared write poems on matters poets of his time could not dare. With his ability to speak freely in his poems, he was seen as been democratic. It will be worth to note that it is refusal to censor his work that made him more modern and American. Today, his poems no longer appear to be radical as compared to our contemporary poets. Back in the 119th century when he was writing his poems, they appeared completely new and shocking to the readers. He did not conform to rhymes and his courage to touch on subjects that other could not, made his writing beautiful and sensual. It is during Whitman's time that it was referred to as the romantic period. Whitman and Emily Dickson emerged as the founders of modern poetry. While sticking to originality to their poems, it will be observed that their poems tend to lack the characteristics commonly found in poems of romance. The poe...
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