He is important to our literature first of all because he was a great poet. Three of his works such as “ I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing,” “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer,” and “A Noiseless Patient Spider” will be discussed to show his writing characteristics of a new type of literature, building a bridge between Transcendentalism and Realism. Second, as an artist he has the kind of courage and vision upon which new eras are found.
He remains one of our most important poets because he announces and instructs a new age; but he is equally important as a defender of the central American idealism of the past. In the time period of which Whitman writes, the kind of brilliance which is uncommon sense makes known to him that the time has come for many barriers to fall; barriers to the welfare and the expression of the individual, which he values above all else. Thus, in the advance of the “new” psychology he insists on the unity of the personality and the significant importance of all experience.
He celebrates the values of the common, the miracle of the mouse, the wholesome soundness of the calloused hand, the body’s sweat (Agamben).
He attempts “to make illustrious” the “procreative urge of the universe,” or humans (Page).
On the plane of political thought he is also an apostle of individualism and represents the nineteenth-century projection of Jeffersonian idealism. Continued from the historical perspective of the time period, in 1855 Whitman is the first voice of the revolution, which after 1870 sweeps over European literature and much later reaches the United States.
There comes a time in our lives where we all have to face important decisions and challenges maybe taking examinations or starting a new job. For me, going to secondary school was an important time and was a big challenge. This can be a stressful and nerve racking experience for any eleven year old, unlike most of the people that started my school I didn’t know many people from my previous primary ...
But now he has in mind his great project. Shaken by the ominous shadows that gather over the country as “ the irrepressible conflict” takes shape in the Mexican War, he conceives of a book to interpret American democratic idealism as he has experienced it (Page).
It is to be a poem in a new form with which he has been experimenting since perhaps 1847. Whitman finally begins his famous poetry collection of Leaves of Grass, which contains his infamous use of free verse among the various characteristics he uses in his writings.
Walt Whitman’s distinctiveness in his writing proves his given name as the “Father of Free Verse. ” There is no set meter in free verse, and it is meant to emulate regular speech. Whitman also uses within free verse the repetition of images, symbols, and phrases. His use of rhythm as a fluid instrument of verse demonstrated a range of possibilities beyond that of conventional rhyme and regular meter. He writes symphonically, associating themes and melodies with great freedom and suggestiveness; he abandons conventional and stale poetic figures and draws his symbolism freshly from experience.
Spiritually he springs from the tradition that Emerson represents, having the transcendental or intuitional nature that trusts the naturally spiritual intimations of the individual and makes the individual responsible to them (Agamben).
The main aspect of the uniqueness in Whitman’s work is his bridge between Transcendentalism and Realism. He uses the uncommon and marvelous subject matter of nature, individualism, and intuition and combines them into the theme of everyday life and common experiences of realism. All of these characteristics are evident throughout works written by Whitman.
The first work to look at is “I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing,” where Whitman uses repeated images such as the leaves, twigs, and moss along with repeated phrases of “I saw, I wonder’d, I know,” etc throughout the lines, and the reoccurring “utter joyous leaves” (Whitman 52).
Walt Whitman Walt Whitman was born in a rural village on Long Island N. Y. on May, 31 1819. He went to school to five to six years, although he received most of his education from the literature he read. His first jobs consisted of being a printer and a school teacher. At the age of 27 he became editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, dismissed two years later because he had radically liberal views. ...
There is also the contrast and parallelism in paired lines where he distinguishes ideas of having friends and not, between himself and the leaves of the trees. Yet, the importance of this poem is to show how Whitman bridges the gap between transcendental literature and realistic literature.
Realism is shown through his use of an everyday setting in Louisiana with common experiences such as walking among nature in itself. The description of the leaves of dark green and glistening with moss hanging from the tree’s branches is a normal site in setting. However, the turn from realism to a transcendental aspect occurs when Whitman gives the tree and its leaves human like characteristics. He uses the uncommon and marvelous here by portraying the tree to be alone with its “utter joyous leaves,” but he wonders how it could be satisfied “without a friend or lover near” (Whitman 52).
Whitman gives the idea that nature can teach us something through its appearance. Secondly, Whitman’s poem “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer,” displays his infamous characteristics as well. The typical use of his repetition using the anaphora “When I” is repeated at the beginning of the first few lines (Whitman 61).
Once again the importance of his poem is shown through the connection of transcendentalism and realism. It does so by taking the realistic nature and setting of a lecture-room with students learning and working with charts.
This shows the ordinary, everyday, common aspect of a student getting bored during his professor’s lesson of Astronomy. However, Whitman displays transcendentalism through the student walking out of the classroom and into nature itself. Instead of learning about astronomy, he wanders off into “the mystical moist night-air” experiencing the “perfect silence” of the stars in the sky for himself (Whitman 61).
A message once more is learned through the magnificence of nature in everyday reality. Lastly, the work of “A Noiseless Patient Spider” by Whitman also expresses his distinctiveness as a poet.
Comparing Poem to Everyday Life This poem is ultimate truth of every youths life. Ambition to man is what fragrance to a flower. It is a force without constraints or restrictions. Whatever ones age or status is, everyone nurses in his heart a secret ambition. It is born out of todays discontent and looks up to a better or satisfying tomorrow. It is a driving force that spurs the inactive in to ...
Though of course he displays his accustomed use of anaphoras and repetition as seen in the last stanza with phrases of “Till the” and “O my soul” (Whitman 67).
He uses alliteration in the third line of the first stanza by including the words “vacant” and “vast,” and in line 4 by the use of “forth” and the word “filament” three successive times (Whitman 67).
Nevertheless, Whitman’s significant standpoint of linking transcendentalism and realism is once again established. The poem metaphorically compares a spider to a human. Each creature tirelessly constructs bonds to its surroundings.
A spider spins silken thread to span a void. A human builds ships, airplanes, bridges etc. Even though the poet is realistically just watching a lonely spider spin a web, an aspect of transcendentalism is brought forth by a human obtaining knowledge through nature. The quest, or exploration, for meaning and knowledge in the vastness of the universe and the courage to venture forth alone into unknown territory are evident themes present in this poem where Whitman remarkably uses everyday life to once again teach a valuable lesson.
As one of the greatest writers from the nineteenth-century, Walt Whitman is notorious for his unique characteristics that aspire many to read his works. As the “Father of Free Verse,” Whitman is heavily influenced by both his transcendentalist and realist roots to become a rebel against traditional England influence. Whitman’s connection to nature is clearly evident as he illuminates a lower-class society’s appreciation for simplicity and naturalism. His first-person narration technique deviates from the traditional use of an idolized main character passing through an array of obstacles.
Instead, all of what is written in the poems previous occurs within the mind and body of the main character as he or she embraces the natural world and a sense of completeness, also alluding to the transcendentalist value of societal unification, but individualism as well. Walt Whitman ultimately and profoundly bridges the gap between transcendentalism and realism by placing everyday life in nature before the reader, to then led them to an insightful discovery.