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Whitman and Dickinson A New American Poetry.

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Presentation on theme: "Whitman and Dickinson A New American Poetry."— Presentation transcript:

1 Whitman and Dickinson A New American Poetry

2 Whitman’s Early Life He was born May 31, 1819 in New York.
His formal schooling ended at age 11. He worked as office boy and printer’s assistant. He became a journalist by the age of 20.

3 Whitman’s Travels Around 1850, Whitman began traveling around the U.S.
Travels gave Whitman a perspective on the vastness of the United States. Travels exposed Whitman to various cultures within the nation.

4 Whitman’s Beginning of Writing Career
Editor of newspapers The Freeman Brooklyn Eagle New York Aurora Kept notebooks of travels Kept notebooks of poems

5 Leaves of Grass Self-published in 1855 Set some of type himself
Publicized by sending excerpts to known authors Published 9 editions, 12 poems in 1855 edition 350 poems in 1892 edition Themes include Sacredness of self Death as part of cycle of life Equality of all beings

6 Whitman’s Poetic Elements
Free verse Cadence Run of words that rise and fall to make emphasis of thought Need to read poems aloud to hear cadence Other poetic elements Assonance Alliteration Onomatopoeia Parallel structure Imagery

7 “Song of Myself” Made up of 52 parts which parallel a year
Whitman billed himself as speaker for American people Introduced free verse Employs chant and ordinary speech

8 Whitman’s Civil War Experience
Served as a “wound dresser” Was greatly affected by the carnage of the war Drum Taps based on war experiences

9 Responding to the Assassination of Lincoln
“Oh Captain, My Captain” Style atypical for Whitman in that it contained a regular rhyme and uses a traditional form

10 “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”
One of Whitman’s finest poems Explores grief of narrator and of nation at Lincoln’s death Uses lilacs to symbolize life and rebirth

11 Dickinson’s Early Life
She was born to religious, well-to-do family and had a normal childhood in Amherst, Massachusetts. Everyone expected her to marry and raise a family like most women of her class. This all suddenly changed when she was 24.

12 Poet and Recluse “Dickinson used precise language and unique poetic forms to simultaneously reveal and conceal her private thoughts and feelings” (Elements of Literature 345). What happened to turn a young girl into an unrecognized poet who never left her house?

13 What would cause a young woman of 24 suddenly to isolate herself within her yard and house and ignore the world outside?

14 Speculations About Why:
Left Amherst to go to Washington D.C. with her father, a congressman, because she had fallen in love with a married lawyer, who soon died of TB. There , she fell in love with another married man, Charles Wadsworth, a minister. He moved to San Francisco in About this time she wrote, “I sing as the boy does by the burying ground, because I am afraid.”

15 Return to Amherst Within a few years, she had retreated from all social life in Amherst. Always wearing white, like the bride she would never be, she remained in her parents’ house and restricted herself to household work and writing poetry, which she would sometimes send to people as gifts for valentines or birthdays, along with a pie or some cookies.

16 Dickinson’s Poems Only a few of her poems were published in her lifetime. She sent four of them to a critic, Mr. Higginson, asking for his help. When he sent suggestions for changing her poems, she replied in a letter, “Thank you for the surgery; it was not so painful as I supposed. I bring you others, as you ask” (Higginson).

17 After her death, friends and relatives found bundles of her poems, which they edited and “corrected” and had published in installments. In 1955, Thomas H. Johnson finally published a collection of her poems that had not been “corrected.” These are the versions we read today.

18 What Sort of Poet Was She?
Dickinson is known for using poetry as private observation. Her poems are carefully crafted in rhyme and meter.

19 Dickinson In one of her best-known poems, Emily Dickinson wrote: “This is my letter to the World / That never wrote to Me—“ (1-2). The words nicely capture Dickinson’s two opposite positions in the world of American literature. During her life, she existed largely on the margins. Unlike Whitman and Thoreau, she did not count Ralph Waldo Emerson among her friends or admirers. She did not travel widely, as Herman Melville did.

20 She did not even publish many of her works in her lifetime
She did not even publish many of her works in her lifetime. It was only after her death that critics came to appreciate her unique genius and placed her at the center of American literature. Now, indeed, her poems do go out to “the World.” Inspired partly by Emerson, Dickinson treated some of the same themes that he and other writers of the nineteenth century addressed in their work: nature, death, pain, love, separation.

21 Indeed, one feels that Dickinson may have had much in common with Whitman, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and even Edgar Allan Poe. The reasons behind Dickinson’s relatively poor reception in her own life, however, may lie in her complex, unusual style, which is characterized by the use of dashes, slant rhyme, and ambiguous, elusive language.

22 Expressing American Ideas
During the period in American History known as Conflict and Celebration, there were several poets who began to write differently than people had written before. Their writing style was more modern; they broke with traditional styles. Among these poets were Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson.

23 Expressing American Ideas
They used these new writing styles to express uniquely American ideas. Although both Whitman and Dickinson are considered modern writers, their writings can be compared and contrasted in many ways. There are by far more differences in the writing styles of Whitman and Dickinson than there are similarities.

24 Whitman vs. Dickinson structure of poems
One difference is the way they structured their poems. Basically, the structures of Whitman’s poems are the lack of any structure. Whitman’s poems tend to run on and on; there was no set length for his poems, stanzas, or even lines. Dickinson, on the other hand, wrote poems with a definite structure. She wrote ballad stanzas, which were four line stanzas alternating in iambic tetrameter and tri-meter.

25 Whitman vs. Dickinson use of rhyme
As with structure, Whitman’s poetry has no rhyme. In this way Whitman also breaks from tradition. Whitman’s poems make use of free verse. This is poetry that is written without concern for regular rhyme schemes and meter. Dickinson’s poems, unlike Whitman’s, make use of slant rhyme. This is the use of near or approximate rhymes, and is a relatively modern idea.

26 Similarities: use of modern ideas and concepts in poetry
One of Dickinson’s modern “tools” is her use of startling imagery. Typical of her writing are the use of dashes that break the lines, and serve to keep them open. Most of her poems are short, but they take you on an infinite trip; they look simple enough, but what you see is not what you get. One of the poetic “tools” which Whitman uses is cataloguing, or enumeration. Catalogs are long lists of related things, people, or events.

27 An interesting point of comparison on Whitman and Dickinson:
They are alike in the fact that they are not necessarily transcendentalists, but often express transcendentalist views in their poems Even though both lived during the time of realism they interpret nature through their poetry and use poetry as a vehicle to participate in nature’s beauty and transcendentalism. They both find inspiration from nature and find an expression or reflection of the soul in nature.

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