LITERARY TREND AND AUTHOR CANON
Romanticism in Whitman’s poems:
Transcendentalist influence in Whitman’s poetry:
Realist approach in Whitman’s poetry:
LEAVES OF GRASS (1855)
LITERARY GENRE AND TECHNIQUES
Literary Form – the volume belongs to no particular form of poetry
Main theme: the exploration and celebration of the poet’s self. The notion of self is physical and spiritual. The self is synonymous with the man’s identity, his being, which differs from the selves of all other men, although it can identify with them. The self is a part of the Divine Soul. Whitman’s self is not an expression of egotism, as his “I” is a universal concept.
Poems from “Leaves of Grass”
The number of poems in the series varies depending on the edition;
2. “Song of Myself”
The self is the most important aspect of the poet’s mind and art. It is both individual and universal and it comprises ideas, experiences, psychological states, and spiritual insights. The poet maintains the identity of his individual self, but also merges it with the universal self, identifying it with mankind and God, the Absolute Self.
3. “Children of Adam”
The poem is a reinterpretation of the Fall of Man story in the Bible, in which Whitman reverses the Christian take and affirms that man can regain the lost paradise by accepting the flesh and by a glorification of the body, which is as sacred as the spirit.
Example: “Loud! loud! loud!”
“Blow! blow! blow!”
“Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking“
Exuberant phrases and images. The language is descriptive in presenting the physical world.
Eccentric, archaic language: “methinks”, “haply”
Rhythm and meter: experimental.
Whitman’s symbols are governed by the world he observed around him:
The poet interprets the world through these symbols and sensory perceptions.
Whitman was a contemporary of the French Symbolist movement, but they interpreted symbols in a different, highly personal manner, so the two approaches don’t coincide.