Whitman’s Poetry Epic poetry: tells a long about a hero whose adventures embody the values of a nation Long Lines: long, sprawling lines for various effects Catalogues (lists): lists of people, objects, or situations, evokes the infinite range of elements that make up human experience Onomatopoeia: words whose sounds imitate their meanings Ex: grunting, gab, yawp
Free Verse Has irregular meter and line length and sounds like natural speech Whitman was the first American poet to use it It allows him to shape every line and stanza to suit his meaning, rather than fitting his message to a form
Free Verse I too am not a bit tamed. I too am untranslatable, I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world. Both the meaning and the form of these lines express his unwillingness to conform or be “tamed”.
Parallel Structure (Anaphora) Repetition of phrases or sentences with similar structures or meanings The repetition can be as simple as a single word or as long as an entire phrase His use of anaphora in this paragraph creates a tone and rhythm
Parallel Structure (Anaphora) These are really the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands, they are not original with me, If they are not yours as much as mine they are nothing, or next to nothing, If they are not the riddle and the untying of the riddle they are nothing, If they are not just as close as they are distant they are nothing, This is the grass that grows wherever the land is and the water is, This is the common air that bathes the globe. from “Song of Myself”
Copy the following questions and answer after reading, “I Hear America Singing”
Discussion Questions 1. List one example of each of the following elements: –Cataloging –Parallel structure 2. Why did Whitman use free verse? 3. What is Whitman’s view/attitude about humanity in poem? 4. What does the singing symbolize? 5. What can be concluded from the poem?
Answers 1. cataloging- lines 2-9 used to list various workers in America. parallel structure- lines 3-6 each line beginning with the same phrasing: “The carpenter singing”; “The mason singing” 2. Whitman used free verse to express individuality, to celebrate democracy, to convey freedom, to be original…not like poets before him.
3. He gives a view that is kind and affectionate towards others. 4. Singing symbolizes the individuality of Americans in different walks of life. 5.The common person is the Epic Hero of his poem.
“Song of Myself” 1.Identify an example of cadence and how does the cadence help convey Whitman’s epic theme? 2. In section 14-lines 5-9, what element is being used? 3. What view of life is suggested by Whitman’s use of the words (Diction) “onward,” “outward,” and “luckier?” 4. Identify an example of parallel structure. List the section and line #’s.
5. List an example of an onomatopoeia. 6. In section 17, lines 1-4: What is Whitman’s attitude toward humanity? 7. Define abeyance and explain what the line “creeds and schools in abeyance” means?
Answers- “Song of Myself” 1.The question and answer pattern makes Section 6 sound like a conversation. The conversation makes the poet seems like just another person-conveying Whitman’s epic theme of the connections between all people. 2.Cataloging 3.The words have positive, hopeful connotations…attitude toward life is that is moves us forward and that nothing ever dies.
4. Section 17 – lines 1-4 “they are not” lines 5-6 “This is the” 5. Barbaric yawp 6. Whitman believes that his observations are universally shared. 7.def-temporary suspension…
“A Noiseless Patient Spider” Summary- Watching a spider spin its thread, the speaker compares the insect to his soul. Like the spider, he stands in oceans of space, throwing out threads, seeking connections to the universe.
“A Noiseless Patient Spider” 1. Whitman uses an analogy to compare the spider to what in this poem? 2.What does Whitman admire about the spider? 3.Using context clues, what does gossamer mean?
Answers 1.The Soul 2.Create beautiful silken web patterns 3.extremely light, delicate, or tenuous
“When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” 1.What does the speaker do in reaction to the lecture? 2.What do his actions reveal?
Answers 1.He leaves the lecture hall to look at the stars himself. 2.He wants to experience things personally rather than the exact scientific explanation.