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Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass
Transcript of Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass
1855 Leaves of Grass
Walt Whitman: Life
Born in Suffolk County, Long Island
1. Isolated location: 20 mile radius
2. Farmers in the region were also politically and intellectually engaged with one another.
3. The American Dream was thriving in this area of the country.
*Like Twain, he only had a common education
*His chief education came from associating with all sorts and conditions of people
*He had many different jobs: printer, carpenter, editor where he made friends with everyday people.
*Next phase of his education: travel
He traveled widely and in 1848, twelve years before the Civil War began, he went to New Orleans where he edited a newspaper.
He later traveled north along the Mississippi all the way to Canada. Three years later he returned to New York.
Those who love reading... teach?
In 1836, at the age of 17, Walt Whitman becomes a school teacher.
He taught in a one-room schoolhouse in Long Island until 1841.
He then turns Journalism into his full-time career. It is during this period, when he is editing and writing articles for newspapers, that he realizes how serious the issue of slavery was becoming in the American South.
Walt Whitman's New York
Why Do We Read and Write Poetry?
Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
Twelve untitled poems
What is Leaves of Grass?
Whitman intended it to be a realistic epic of American democracy.
He tried to sing this song as he heart it echoed in the life of man and man's companion, Nature. (reflection of Transcendentalist influences)
Some of his subjects include slavery, democracy, the process of reading and writing, the various types and occupations of American work, the American landscape, the Civil War, education, aging, death, poverty, romantic love, spirituality, and social change (to name a few)
His longest poem is called "Song of Myself".
General characteristics include:
He discarded rhyme almost entirely: Inventor of American Free Verse
He did employ rhythm; mostly determined by the tone of the ideas, not necessarily by the number of syllables. Most closely resembles iambic meter.
Written in long, sprawling lines and cover every subject imaginable.
For fear of using traditional poetic ornaments, he uses catalogs of names, places, objects, and emotions instead.
Uses anaphora (repetition of a single word at the beginning of a phrase), giving the verses a rhythmic and epic feel.
"Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"
A man is taking the Brooklyn ferry home from Manhattan at the end of a working day.
What effect do the anaphoric lines have on this poem?
What other effect might the repetitive phrasing have on the poem's subject matter?