Loneliness: A Connection between the Poems and the Lives of the Writers The lives of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson have many similarities and differences. Here, we will focus on the similarities in their lives in order to bring to attention a correlation between Whitman’s poem I Saw in Louisiana a Live-oak Growing and Dickinson’s poem # 1510. Both poets wrote during the time of Romanticism, even though Whitman was Dickinson’s senior by some eleven years. This however did not influence the way the writing styles of many of their poems coincided. Loneliness was an important characteristic of both poet’s lives during the writing years. Whitman, whose sexuality has been questioned, was never one for social interaction.
Much of his time was spent writing or editing newspapers such as the Long Island Star and the Brooklyn Daily Times (Whitman XV).
Dickinson, whose life was similar to Whitman’s in a social sense, lived in a different atmosphere. Emily lived in Amherst which was a far cry from the hustle an bustle of Whitman’s life in cities such as New York, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. She never married, living alone in her home for the majority of her life (Dickinson 128).
The loneliness, along with the inspiration from nature (a major characteristic of Romantic writing), are two things that can be seen in the two poems that we are about to take an in depth look at. In addition to these items we can also see a possible attempt by Whitman and Dickinson to keep their real life away from public view (even though they were not immediately published), instead making their lives seem joyous.
Analyzing Emily Dickinson's Poems During her lifetime, Emily Dickinson was unknown to the general audience as a poet, and only after her death the works she has created became popular. Nowadays Emily Dickinson is recognized as one of the greatest American poets, and she is especially famous as a lyric poet. Many of Emilys biographers call her eccentric and psychologically unbalanced; she did not ...
We will first look at Walt Whitman’s poem I Saw in Louisiana a Live-oak Growing. In the second line, Whitman sets the tone of loneliness by describing the tree standing all alone. However, in the next line he continues by saying that the tree is able to grow joyous leaves despite the fact that it doe not have a companion. Many people believe that this mimics Whitman’s life. Living in a life of social separation much of the time, he still managed to succeed not only with his writing, but also in life itself.
However, in line five Whitman goes on to say that he wonders how the tree could grow such joyous leaves while being alone. He himself says that he could not survive if put in the same situation. Whitman did however lead a joyous and happy life in many peoples opinion, even though he did not enjoy the social life many other had during his lifetime. His own opinion of himself not being lonely may be frayed in order to spare the image he proposes to the public in his writings.
The next few lines are interesting because of the way they could possible spell out Whitman’s life. In the poem, he breaks of a twig, wraps some moss around it, and takes it to he room and places it in plain view. This may parallel his life by way of his memory. The twig may represent pieces of his memory that were enjoyable to him.
He then takes the twig and places it in his room signifying that he wants to be able to constantly see those fond memories. Again Whitman replies by saying he did not do this to remind him of his friends, but in reality he may have just said this to help keep a good report with his readers about his lifestyle. In Dickinson’s poem # 1510 she also focuses on loneliness. In the first two lines, Dickinson immediately states that although the little stone is alone, it is very happy.
Like Whitman’s poem, Dickinson could have written #1510 as a summery of her life since it was written fairly late in her career. This being that case, she, like Whitman is disguising her lonely life by boldly stating that she is happy. The next few lines concerning the carefree atmosphere around her career and around urgent situations also parallels Dickinson’s life. The absence of the busy city and the constant tranquil aura of her home indicates that Dickinson did in fact lead a quiet life.
In everyday life, there is a constant struggle to create a sense of self within the mind of every person in this world. There is always a conflict present between the importance of self and the influence that others pose on this sense. When this sense is reached in life, there is still constant influence from others to alter this frame of mind. In many works of literature, this struggle can be ...
The next two lines are difficult to interpret and could have multiple meanings. The first possible meaning for a coat of brown could be the outside color of the little stone lying in the road. Secondly, keeping with the parallel of Dickinson’s life, the coat of brown could represent her hair. Here the coat would be the hair itself, and the brown could be the color. This symbolism would keep constant the fact that the stone represents her. “And independent as the Sun Associates or glows alone.” These lines state that Dickinson was a free as the sun, allowed to do as she pleases, and like the sun, she thought her life glowed with success.
To close the poem she uses the words “In casual simplicity” to show that her life was simple and enjoyable. With these poems, we can see the connection not only between the styles of I Saw in Louisiana a Live-oak Growing and #1510, but also between the lonely lifestyles Whitman and Dickinson led. However one characteristic does shine through in both poems. That being the attempt by both writers to hide the loneliness of their lives by saying that they are happy and have fought through the loneliness. These two works are great parallels of the writer’s lives even though they may not have intended to directly relate the poems to themselves. Works Cited Dickenson, Donna, Emily Dickinson.
Dover: Berg Publishing, 1985. Myerson, Joel, Ed. Whitman in his own Time. Detroit: Omigraphics Inc, 1991.
Dickenson, Donna, Emily Dickinson. Dover: Berg Publishing, 1985. Myerson, Joel, Ed. Whitman in his own Time.
Detroit: Omigraphics Inc, 1991.