The Poetry of Walt Whitman versus William Carlos Williams
Perhaps the most basic and essential function of poetry is to evoke a particular response in the reader. The poet,
desiring to convey on emotion or inspiration, uses the imagination to create a structure that will properly
communicate his state of mind. In essence he is attempting to bring himself and the reader closer, to establish a
relationship. William Carlos Williams contends that "art gives the feeling of completion by revealing the oneness
of experience" (194) This argument relies on the precept that art is reality is not nature or a reflection of nature
but a completely original creation. And additionally, that art is holistic, where one can experience the whole of
reality through a particular. A poet's task is to write poetry that the reader can identify with, something congruent
with the thoughts of those he is writing for (or to). If this can be accomplished, a connection is established, and
poetry can act as a catalyst to initiate the imagination. In my first paper this semester I argued that Whitman uses
sexual imagery as a rhetorical tool to arouse the reader. The result of this is congruent emotions within poet and
reader that demonstrate an effective use of tone, through which Whitman can address the reader. "The mystic
deliria, the madness amorous, the utter abandonment,/ (Hark close and still what I now whisper to you" (77).
Whitman is specking directly to the reader, through an all-encompassing god-like persona. In "Song of Myself"
Whitman reinvents himself as all of reality, and through the use of tone and imagery (shot establishes a
relationship) draws the reader into his world. Williams' poetry is an attempt to establish a communion, of sorts,
with the reader, as well. His poetry is an exploration of momentary images, a jagged journey through personal
perception, that the reader can relate to. Williams' diction and visual presentation of words resists the artificial;
his poetry has a rhythm that is natural and American, a gregarious appeal to the common man. In Spring and All
Williams creates a persona that is appealing, establishing a relationship and affecting the reader. Both Whitman
and Williams create a harmony between themselves and the reader that suggests the universality of experience.
The creation of an acceptable persona is essential to Whitman's poetic program. In "Song of Myself" this is
accomplished through a congenial style that consists of unbridled enthusiasm, a friendly voice; an image emerges
of Whitman shouting at the reader, saying "Look what I've discovered!": "Stop this day and night with me and
you shall possess the origin of all poems,/ You shall possess the good of the earth and sun" (25). His poetry is
often conversational, lacking a highly structured form. From the...