This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Whitman's Poetry Essay

1514 words - 7 pages

Whitman’s poetry of democracy
What is it we call democracy, to begin with? “Democracy” comes from the Greek word “demos”, meaning “people”, and from the Greek word “cratos” meaning “strength, power”.
Basically, democracy can be defined as a system of government, and this is the basic definition which can be found in the dictionary, in which all the people of a country elect their representatives. It can also be defined as the fair and equal treatment of everyone in an organization, and their right to take part in making decisions. What emerges from this definition is the importance of the notions of freedom, of equality, of brotherhood too in democracy, as the essential ideals of democracy.
Whitman’s faith in democracy expresses itself from the very beginning of Leaves of Grass. It stands as one of Whitman’s most important beliefs emerging from the opening sequence of poems of his book, Inscriptions (Aubier, p. 36-45)
The opening poem, “One’s-Self I Sing”, (p. 36) can be considered an illustration of the poet’s faith in democracy. In this opening poem, the poetic self, the speaker in the poem declares that he “utter(s) the word Democratic, the word En-Masse”. Whitman’s Leaves of Grass begins as a sort of song in praise of Democracy, as an ode of sorts in praise of democracy, the ode traditionally being a poem in praise of somebody or something. One notices, however, that, if Whitman returns to the traditional genre of the ode, a genre initially introduced by the Greek poet Pindar (Vth c. BC) and by the Latin poet Horace (Ist c. BC), a genre revived by the Romantics who excelled at writing odes, it is mainly to renew this traditional type of poem obeying a given sophisticated form. For his poetry in praise of democracy, Walt Whitman proposes a new kind of composition, composition in free verse, rejecting fixed forms, rejecting conventional line patterns, conventional stanzaic structures, as well as conventional end-rhyme schemes.
There is a linguistic dimension added to the thematic project to write the poems of democracy in Leaves of Grass. Writing the poems of democracy, writing the song of democracy, is a linguistic enterprise, a linguistic project to renew poetic forms, to renew poetic language, to invent democratic forms, a democratic language, for the poetry of the young American nation in the process of becoming model of democracy to the rest of the world. At the beginning of his collection, the poet’s composition in free verse and his unconventional treatment of poetic structures reveal his intention to break with the old traditions of poetic meter and poetic form, with a tradition which has made of poetry a difficult and erudite kind of art reserved for a cultivated elite. One of the main tenets of democracy, freedom, is already conveyed, already imposes itself through the very composition of the poems, which can be considered as deeply unconventional, quasi revolutionary. The democratic belief in...

Find Another Essay On whitman's poetry

Imagery and Walt Whitman Essay

1656 words - 7 pages Upon the PedestalWalt Whitman was born May 31, 1819 to a Quaker family, but his background and religious upbringing did not define the many achievements that he accomplished during his lifetime. Whitman was an American poet, essayist, journalist, and humanist whose poetry is immortalized because of the greatness embodies it. Whitman's work was unique for the time because his poetry was American about America; whereas, most poetry of the time was

Lowell and Whitman Essay

806 words - 3 pages other hand, greatly influenced twentieth century American poetry; his name and contributions are often associated with poets like Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson. Both Lowell and Whitman wrote a poem addressing themselves, however, their style and technique is different. This shall be explored through James Lowell's poem "Lowell" and Whitman's poem "Song of Myself".In the poem "Lowell", James Lowell satirizes himself. He does not have the

The Life of Walt Whitman: An Exploration in the Poet's Spirituality and Works.

2612 words - 10 pages Many a student has decried various types of poetry for its form and structure while enjoying the free verse works of poets such as T. S. Elliot and Robert Frost. Students, however, frequently neglect the Civil War era poet Walt Whitman who is, to this day, considered the Father of free verse. While Whitman did not invent free verse, he secured its role in the American psyche. Even with his accomplishments, Whitman's life was not without trials

The Life of Walt Whitman

1350 words - 6 pages are life, real life (123HelpMe.com). Needless to say the book was not a great success for Whitman. While Emerson believed Whitman wrote for the complete person, 'one who is willing to listen to one's self," (123HelpMe.com) another man, Whittier, called Whitman's work, " loose, lurid, and impious." (123HelpMe.com). The first edition of Leaves of Grass was classified by French critic, Therese Bentzon, as " poetry of barbarism," because it was

Divinity, Sexuality and the Self in Whitman’s Song of Myself

1239 words - 5 pages  Divinity, Sexuality and the Self in Whitman’s Song of Myself       Through his poetry, Whitman's "Song of Myself" makes the soul sensual and makes divine the flesh.  In Whitman's time, the dichotomy between the soul and the body had been clearly defined by centuries of Western philosophy and theology.  Today, the goodness of the soul and the badness of the flesh still remain a significant

Dickinson and whitman

1490 words - 6 pages more of a realist, as Emily Dickinson was an impressionist.One way of comparing Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman is that they both describe loneliness in some of their poetry. Whitman, whose sexuality has been questioned, was never one for social interaction. Dickinson secluded herself by never leaving her father's home. Walt Whitman's poem "I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing" and Emily Dickinson's poem number 441 both has issues of

Walt Whitman's Song of Myself broken down into the elements of character, imagery, language, theme, tone, and form

672 words - 3 pages the type of imagethe poet is trying to project. Whitman is considered arevolutionary writer so it is no surprise that he writes infree verse and does not commit to the norm.I feel that Whitman is trying to project hispersonality to us in a way that he gets his point acrossthrough his poetry. The denotation of the word personalityis the visible aspect of one's character as it impressesothers. One aspect of Whitman's personality that is visibleto

His song to Us (a critique of Walt Whitman's Song of Myself, quotes included)

741 words - 3 pages word personality is the visible aspect of one's character as it impresses others. One aspect of Whitman's personality that is visible to us is his love for animals and nature. As I have stated before, this is Whitman's prominent theme.In all, this poem does not only describe Whitman's way of writing, it also displays his affectionate side towards animals and nature. Although Whitman was not appreciated for writing in free verse, he continued to write in that style and changed the way poetry is viewed today.

Walt Whitman's Writings

1505 words - 6 pages Walt Whitman's Writings *Missing Works Cited* 1. "Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am, stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary… (Whitman 38) ." This line expresses Walt Whitman's philosophy on life and is an almost perfect description of the poet. He was a man, who in his poetry, expressed independence, interdependence with other living things, and the struggles that are dealt with by him and others

Whitman and Women: "Song of Myself"

2748 words - 11 pages "I am the poet of the woman the same as the man," Whitman exclaims, in "Song of Myself" (419). The exultant, rolling lines of Whitman's poetry contain abundant references to both the sacredness of women and the limitlessness of their power. At the heart of his representation of women lay his desire to build a new American identity anchored on democratic and egalitarian principles. Whitman depicts women, particularly in their maternal role, as

Allen Ginsberg's America

1996 words - 8 pages Whitman's Democratic Vistas, although Percy Bysshe Shelley's A Defense of Poetry also contributes some very critical parallels to the poem and its characteristics. Ginsberg's "America" was written in 1956, a time when beatniks and beat poetry were popular. The poem is indeed a reflection of the beat style; it feels like a conversation with its spontaneity and honest tone. It reads like a monologue, incorporating a stream of consciousness feel

Similar Essays

The Great Gatsby Essay

874 words - 4 pages What is Whitman's democratic vision for America as outlined in “Leaves of Grass”? Walt Whitman was an American poet, born in 1819. Whitman published a collection of poetry in which he outlined his democratic vision for America. Walt Whitman was credited with being the founder of a literature that was uniquely American. America was a very new country at this time, the Declaration of Independence, in which America claimed independence from

A Poem Analysis: "A Noiseless Patient Spider" By Walt Whitman

1640 words - 7 pages the next reason is all throughout Whitman's career Emerson has been a large influence (Poetry Criticism). Emerson even wrote to him once: "I find it the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed... I greet you at the beginning of a great career" (Poetry For Students v13). The second idea that is believed to cause this change is "his acceptance of his homosexuality" (Poetry Criticism).Whitman's most highly

Leaves Of Grass By Walt Whitman

1493 words - 6 pages Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman In the twentieth century, the name Walt Whitman has been synonymous with poetry. Whitman's most celebrated work, Leaves of Grass, was the only book he ever wrote, and he took a lifetime to write it. A large assortment of poems, it is one of the most widely criticized works in literature, and one of the most loved works as well. Whitman was unmarried and childless, and it has been noted that Leaves of Grass

Review Of Leaves Of Grass Walt Whitman

1558 words - 6 pages Leaves of Grass by Walt WhitmanBy ghadatu | Studymode.comLeaves of Grass by Walt Whitman In the twentieth century, the name Walt Whitman has been synonymous with poetry. Whitman's most celebrated work, Leaves of Grass, was the only book he ever wrote, and he took a lifetime to write it. A large assortment of poems, it is one of the most widely criticized works in literature, and one of the most loved works as well. Whitman was unmarried and