I refer to Walt Whitman as a beacon of hope and democracy. In the poem Song of Myself, he introduces himself to the world and celebrates himself in arguably the most renown manifesto of his poetic masterpiece. Like Emily Dickinson, Whitman is a master when it comes to describing nature. He Begins by observing the summer grass and breathes in the fragrance of himself; he expresses what nature means to him and poems. “The atmosphere is not a perfume, it has no taste of the distillation, it is odorless, it is for my mouth forever, and I am in love with it.” (Whitman)
This kind of imagery and hope is honestly electrifying, as opposed to Emily’s melancholy, bleak writing style. Whitman just seems like he is happy to be up right and drawing air. Whitman is in love with life, he is in love with the things around him and he accepts people for who they are. Although the differences of Whitman and Emily Dickinson are worlds apart, ranging from the punctuation, the different approaches these two artists possess is groundbreaking. They do have things in common however, and that is nature and love.
Song of Myself is an elongated, prominent honoring of the enclosing eccentric personality that Walt Whitman creates in Leaves of Grass. It is a strong representation of his unconventional democratic brand of poetry. His ability to blend the past, present, and future is just mind blowing, “I do not talk of the beginning or the end. (Whitman) Making his work classic and timeless. He states that people are like grass, they are individuals, yet they make a whole. At the end of the poem, Whitman offers an invitation to the reader. “Who wishes to walk with me? Will you speak before I gone? I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.” (Whitman). That is an offer that I will gladly accept.
I went into detail about Song of Myself because it surely is a pleasure to read. The excerpts from the preface are basically all the themes Whitman presents in his poems, describing nature and having that over all love between people and the world. Emily is more on the darker side of the spectrum in my opinion, her poems are derived in pain. These two poets are so similar yet so different, one describes how beautiful life can be while one portrays how ugly it can be. In the last of the excerpt, reading what Whitman wrote about the dead was dumbfounding, he makes me feel redeemable, while Emily makes me feel all hope is lost.
Emily Dickinson is one of the most accomplished poets of her time, filling her poems with feelings of emotion and divine creation, love, and nature. “I HIDE myself within my flower, That wearing on your breast, You, unsuspecting, wear me too- And angles know the rest.” (Dickinson). The first stanza in I Hide Myself Within My Flower, embraces this soft, angelic tone almost as if it is being whispered in a way. Her ability to merge nature and heaven is classic Emily, this stanza represents that she is trying conceal something but wants to let it be known, not caring if other people know about it but her and her lover.
The flower represents the symbol of her love and inability to open up, or maybe because people do not want to see them together for whatever reasons. Emily portrays herself has being a hopeless romantic in this cruel world, “I hide myself within my flower, That, fading from your vase, You unsuspecting, feel for me almost a loneliness.” (Dickinson). Dickinson unravels to the reader that she views herself of having little to know value, she feels like she should be the prize but unfortunately is not treated that way. People everywhere have felt these dreaded emotions either from a breakup or having strong emotional connections for a secret admirer.
In the poem Should You but Fail at Sea, Emily can combine the elements of nature while having her poems stifled with emotion, shifting through imagery as you feel the pain in her words. “Should you fail but at sea—Sea—In sight of me—Or doomed to lie—Next Sun—to die—or rap—at paradise—unheard I’d harass God Until he let you in!” (Dickinson). The sheer emotion of this poem brings out the brilliance that is Emily, filled with images of a lover traveling across the ocean in search of her but not knowing if he will make it or not is utter gut-wrenching. In this short poem, I feel as if she puts herself as the trophy this time, mixing the harsh, endless ocean separating her and the one she loves. This poem is so intriguing because I feel as if Emily is planning on committing suicide if her lover does not make it to her, but then I get the feeling that maybe she would just pray for him to be allowed in heaven. Questions being formulated over her writing is what makes her one of the best poets to have graced this earth.
Walt and Emily are so different, yet so alike. The imagery, emotion, the feelings of love but from different aspects to even the differing writing styles is so complex. The only thing in my eyes that puts these poets in the same category is the imagery of nature, being able to breathe live into their poems and allowing me to see through the perspective of two geniuses. I do not believe it is fair to compare these two artists, both are great in their own way. Walt writes as if the world is a beautiful lie, while Emily is the painful truth.
- Poetry Foundation – Song of Myself
- Library of Congress – Walt Whitman
- Plagiarism Detect – Ensure Your Essay is Unique
- Emily Dickinson Museum
- Poetry Foundation – Emily Dickinson
- Walt Whitman Birthplace Association
- Poetry Foundation – I Gave Myself to Him
- University of Virginia – Civil War Writings of Walt Whitman
- University of Virginia – Emily Dickinson’s Life and Works