Innovations in poetry. W. Whitman, E. Dickinson

W. Whitman was an American poet, essayist, journalist, and humanist. He belongs to the period of innovation and new perspectives in literature. Most of his works are written in the transitional period (both realistic and romantic) which included Civil war and lasted till the end of century. He decided to create new poetry, not to borrow anything from European sources. He wandered around the country and what he saw laid in the foundation of his knowledge. He wrote poems all his life. Each new one was added to the collection Leaves of Grass. It was work in process and was never completed. Romanticism is often called symbolism. Grass is a symbol: green symbolises a new life, her triumph over death; it's thin and fragile but very strong (can raise even concrete). He was inspired by Buddhism: he believed in reincarnation, he wasn't afraid of death because after death human come to this world as grass, trees. There was influence of transcendentalism: Song Of Myself – song of American individualism. His aim was to create a new epic poem suitable for a new America. He expressed his political views, he was a poet of democracy, his views were progressive. He wrote about common people and their contribution to the process of creating the wealth and well-being of the country. These ideas are expressed in I hear America singing. Here we hear the choir of voices of different people. Each voice is important. He's radical and bold innovator in political techniques and subjects. He widened the range of topics for poetry: sexual relations. Idea of technological progress. He widened the concept of the language of poetry: he used all layers of vocabulary (colloquialisms, slang words). His style of writing is dynamic, vigorous, he developed a kind of free verse without rhyme or a fixed rhythm. He intended to write for common people but they didn't understand him, they were brought up on classical literature. Proclaimed the "greatest of all American poets" by many foreign observers a mere four years after his death, he is viewed as the first urban poet. He was a part of the transition between Transcendentalism and Realism, incorporating both views in his works. His works have even been translated into more than 25 languages. Whitman is among the most influential and controversial poets in the American canon. His work has been described as a "rude shock" and "the most audacious and debatable contribution yet made to American literature."

E. Dickinson - she was from New England. Her poetry is phylosophical, metaphorical, full of symbolism. She is compared with poetry of confessional poets of XX c. She was influenced by transcendentalism, Shakespeare, Bible, the works of other women writers, Brontes. She discussed topics of religion, human nature, soul, faith, love. She created a very personal and original kind of poetry filled with existentional pain. The poems were irregular in rhyme and rhythm. She experimented with poetry, used visual images (volcano, snow) to express feelings and emotions, to create the atmosphere of emotional tension she used dashes. She was very shy, resorted after her parents died she lived in their house and didn't communicate with oher people. Dickinson lived an introverted and hermetic life. Although she wrote, at the last count, 1,789 poems, only a handful of them were published during her lifetime. All of these were published anonymously and some may have been published without her knowledge. Her poetry is often recognizable at a glance. Her facility with ballad and hymn meter, her extensive use of dashes and unconventional capitalization in her manuscripts, and her idiosyncratic vocabulary and imagery combine to create a unique lyric style. Although over half of her poems were written during the years of the American Civil War, it bears no overt influence in her poetry. Dickinson toyed briefly with the idea of having her life in her poems published, even asking Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a literary critic, for advice. Higginson immediately realized the poet's talent, but when he tried to "improve" Dickinson's poems, adapting them to the more florid, romantic style popular at the time, Dickinson quickly lost interest in the project. By her death (1886), only ten of Dickinson's poems (see: Franklin Edition of the Poems, 1998, App. 1) had been published.


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