Essay On Walt Whitman And Emily Dickinson

992 words - 4 pages

Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson


In America’s history, there have been so many writers, but only few are known for changing the course of American literature.  Two writers that fit this description are Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman.  These two poets have different styles of writing but possess the same themes from the social environment that they are surrounded in.  The poetry reflects these poets’ personality and their own style of writing.  Whitman had an outgoing personality, while Dickinson had a quiet and reserved approach to writing.


        Walt Whitman, born on May 31st, 1819 is said to be way ahead of his time.  He had the better of two worlds growing up.  He experienced nature, but he was close enough to the city to see the industrialization of Brooklyn, New York.  Walt attended school until the age of 11, then he went on to be an office clerk, and even taught school.  Emily Dickinson was born in 1830 to a religious family from New England. Emily learned to cook and sew as girls were often taught at her age.  She attended boarding school surrounded by girls with high spirits who loved to have fun.  Emily quoted about her personality, “A mourner among the children” (372).


        Even though these two poets are from the same time frame, they each had diversified influences. Some of Whitman’s influences include Sir Walter Scott, the Bible, William Shakespeare, philosophers Homer and Dante.  Emily’s influences were not as broad. She worshipped Charles Wadsworth, but only in her dreams did she dare express her love for him. 


        Whitman’s poems are easy to recognize.  He has a distinct style that can be identified, just like Edgar Allen Poe.  One poem that stands out from all the others is “There Was a Child Went Forth” from Leaves of Grass. This poem is literally about a child who goes forward in life, and absorbs things like the materials in his home, the people surrounding his hometown, and the memories will stay with him forever.  Whitman depicts this idea of walking away with memories from a childhood by describing all these images and recollections and then states the fact by writing, “These became part of that child who went forth everyday, and who now goes, and will always go forth every day” (39).


        Dickinson also has a discrete style of writing poetry. She is very quiet and pacified when writing her poems.  She writes in quick little stanzas and brief thoughts.  A poem that pops up when talking about Emily Dickinson is “Success is counted sweetest.”  This poem tells about how success is so grand to those who have never experienced success.  She says that in order to achieve success you have you have the most extreme need for...

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