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Walt Whitman

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Moni T

on 2 February 2014

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Transcript of Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman
Eleanor Walesiewicz
Erika Fleming
Sarah Cherian
Brielle Cenci
Monica Traupmann
The Bard of Democracy
The Poet at Work
What did Whitman Believe?
"Song of Myself"
"I Hear America Singing"
“When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer”
“By the Bivouac’s fitful flame”
“A Noiseless Patient Spider”
Thanks for Watching
America's diverse makeup
Upbeat tone
Catalog Technique Implies equal importance to subjects listed
Common, lower class occupations
Harmony and Equality ("sing" together)
Democratic ideology
“The carpenter singing”; “The mason singing”; “The boatman singing”; “The shoemaker singing”
No formal education; lots of reading
Trained to be a printer
Editor of the
Brooklyn Eagle
Opposed slavery
New Orleans
Poet in NY
Influenced by Emerson
Leaves of Grass
American free verse
Celebrated America and the common man
Background Information
Literary Style
The "Good Gray Poet" and the "Bard of Democracy"
Born: May 31, 1819 in West Hills, NY
Died: March 26, 1892 in Camden, NJ
Wrote during the 19th century
Introduce a more informal writing style
Wrote in the vernacular
Used slang & everyday language
Themes :
Democracy as a way of life, not a political system
Growth and death, especially in early America
The individual as both unique and equal
One of the United States’ most influential poets
Bold, adventurous, generous, and optimistic
Leaves of Grass
as an American epic
“Poet of democracy”: inclusivity of his topics
Epic theme:
All people of all times are connected by their shared experience of life
Style: specific structural and poetic elements that contribute to a sense of "epic sweep"

Main work was the
Leaves of Grass
Edited and revised it throughout his life
wanted to portray his beliefs in democracy and equality
Diversity of the American people
383 poems
treated it as one poem that showed his evolving vision of the world
finished editing it in 1892

Simple imagery of a spider
Deeper meaning
Alliteration- "Vacant, vast, surrounding" (3)
Apostrophe- "O my soul..." (6)
Mood- helpless, lonely, desperate yet determined
The spider is emotion
Reinforces Whitman’s use of common, everyday language
learn’d, wander’d, look’d
Criticizes the professor for his focus on charts and calculations
Personal experience with nature is more important
"mystical moist night air ... perfect silence" (lines 7-8)
“where he
… in the
room” (line 4)
Anaphora (lines 1-4); repeats the phrase “when”
I heard"
the proofs ... were ranged in columns before me"
I was shown the charts"
I sitting heard the astronomer"
Rambling like the professor
Opposition to slavery
Spiritual unity of all forms of life
The human spirit
Strong undercurrents of Transcendentalism
Continual focus on nature and its unity with humanity
Connectedness of all beings to nature and to each other; often uses parallel sentence structure to emphasize similarities and connectedness

view of death as simply the start of life
“Very well then I
Relaxed tone: “I lean and loaf at my ease”
Focus on Americanism
of country barnyard and hard-working Americans
enumerating American people and American animals
Very plain and
colloquial in diction
; open dialogue with reader
“I guess”, “green stuff”, “what do you think”, “will you speak before I am gone?”
: "Ya-honk" of Geese contribute to the earthy feel of the poetry

"Leaves of Grass"

talks about America being free from its past issues
talks about how we do not “repel the past,” but “accept the lessons with calmness”
Americans is able to peacefully live free from old politics and religions
anaphora of the word "here"
the time is now
transcendentalism is here and now
everyone must take part in it

peaceful, quiet tone
words with a soft connotation “solemn, sweet, slow, sleeping, stealthily, tender, wondrous”
starts out very slowly with “a procession winding around me”
repetition of the word “procession”
soldiers tents around him
procession of thoughts in his mind
"phantom" figures
personification of the "stealthy" trees and bushes
Full transcript