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Walt Whitman and Free Verse

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Alexis Pronovost

on 13 January 2012

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Transcript of Walt Whitman and Free Verse

Early Years born on May 31, 1819 in Long Island, NY
son to Louisa Van Velsor and Walt Whitman, Sr.
second of 9 children
4 siblings were handicapped mother father taken out of public school at 11 to help the family
learned the printing press at 12 as an apprentice
Walt fell in love with the written and printed word from traveling to libraries in Manhattan self-taught Homer Shakespeare
Dante Walt became a school teacher at 17, in a one room school house in Long Island. He was unhappy with teaching and taught there for 5 years until he had the chance to establish himself as a journalist in 1841 by moving back to NYC . Walt then became the editor of many different newspapers in Brooklyn and other parts of New York. He moved briefly to New Orleans in 1846 and became editor at the New Orleans Cresent for a few months. First Poetic Inspiration influenced by the language and culture in New Orleans
slavery, neglect of the human condition Started developing his free verse style of writing from 1848-1855. And so it began. Poetic Devices Inspiration (cc) photo by theaucitron on Flickr (cc) photo by theaucitron on Flickr Walt Whitman's Style Spontaneous me, Nature,
The loving day, the mounting sun, the friend I am happy with,
The arm of my friend hanging idly over my shoulder,
The hill-side whiten'd with blossoms of the mountain ash,
The same, late in autumn, the hues of red, yellow, drab,
purple, and light and dark green, [. . .] Metaphor Metaphors, when used properly, help the imagery. My example of metaphorical poetry usage, in a similar form to the way that "Spontaneous Me" is written. Repetition O to make the most jubilant song!
Full of music--full of manhood, womanhood, infancy!
Full of common employments--full of grain and trees.

O for the voices of animals--O for the swiftness and balance
of fishes!
O for the dropping of raindrops in a song!
O for the sunshine and motion of waves in a song!

O the joy of my spirit--it is uncaged--it darts like lightning!
It is not enough to have this globe or a certain time,
I will have thousands of globes and all time.

O the engineer's joys! to go with a locomotive!
To hear the hiss of steam, the merry shriek, the steam-whistle,
the laughing locomotive!
To push with resistless way and speed off in the distance.

O the gleesome saunter over fields and hillsides!
The leaves and flowers of the commonest weeds, the moist
fresh stillness of the woods,
The exquisite smell of the earth at daybreak, and all through
the forenoon. [. . .] Repetition works well to add rhythm and easy memorization aspects to the particular poem. The Words of Walt Whitman Writing Your Own Walt Whitman Free Verse Things to Remember Poetic Devices
Word Choice
Inspiration Don't feel discouraged if you can't get it immediately. It took Walt Whitman years to master his technique and he still wasn't happy with it at times. Aspects of American Society "[. . .]The boldness of the Leaves of Grass, with it's hints of homosexuality, respect for prostitutes, opposition to the draft, compassion for slaves, and the religious references to Adam and Eve as being myths, were too much for the 19th century Americans to take seriously. Some accused Whitman of being blasphemous, a traitor, and a sympathizer with the Confederate party."

"[. . .]Whitman was fired from his clerk's job by then Secretary James Harlan because Harlan felt that The Leaves of Grass was an unsavory, un-American piece of literature." Whitman wrote about slavery, the neglect of the human condition, oppression and neglect and compassion for the poor. Anything that plagued mid 19th century America is looked at in his poetry. from the website Essortment.com
Biography of Walt Whitman The Civil War Abraham Lincoln "[. . .]I think that Whitman, especially in his earlier poems, is simply trying to show the universality of his positions. Notice that by the time he wrote his later poems about more specific subjects like the Death of Abraham Lincoln or the effects of war on soldiers, he wasn't nearly as wordy. However, in his earlier poems, Whitman is dealing with larger, more universal subjects like truth and beauty and wants to include everything. He almost seems afraid that he might forget an example, so he just includes them all." Why do you think Whitman is a very "wordy" poet? Free Verse Definition Poetic Devices metaphors
repetition
any others
Word Choice Inspiration society
vices
anything! words must reflect the topic
descriptive
invoke the imagination A particular mouthful:
"Of That Blithe Throat of Thine" Of that blithe throat of thine from arctic bleak and blank,
I'll mind the lesson, solitary bird--let me too welcome chilling
drifts,
E'en the profoundest chill, as now--a torpid pulse, a brain
unnerv'd,
Old age land-lock'd within its winter bay--(cold, cold, O cold!)
These snowy hairs, my feeble arm, my frozen feet,
For them thy faith, thy rule I take, and grave it to the last;
Not summer's zones alone--not chants of youth, or south's
warm tides alone,
But held by sluggish floes, pack'd in the northern ice, the
cumulus of years,
These with gay heart I also sing. Walt Whitman's Most Famous Poem Interesting thing about "O Captain! My Captain!" is that it has more form than the majority of Walt Whitman's poems. I like it because it incorporates the 3 main characteristics I focused on here.
devices used - metahpors and repeating "O Captain!"
the inspiration (Lincoln)
the word use (specific adjectives) O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up--for you the flag is flung--for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths for you the shores
a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead. Why do you think Walt Whitman is considered to be the Father of Free verse? Do you agree? Whimsical you, Storm,
The open force, the ripping tide, the enemy of my dreams,
The unspoken word between two rivals,
The houses ripped and torn with gales of force,
The shades of night, the feel of dark, shadows, light,
shine, and masked hooded figures,
The intruder of the Earth, marauders and raiders,
unhing'd life of stealth, to you I turn,
Bewitching floating dance, the carelessness,
with which you toss and levitate
Hunger that rips and never ceases, till your force,
your force that never dies,
And this aftermath that stays within,
Will you return once more. To you I embrace with love!
Full of richness – full of childlike flair and buoyancy!
Full of common mistakes – full of water and earth.

To the many colours of which you float – to the will and footing
of my hand!
To you my friend and colleague of old!
To you the joyous light that shines like the days of old!

To the likeness of my soul – it remains – it changes,
But that is hardly enough for your ever melting fields,
For I will never be able to chase those fields.

To it, the painter's mind, to flutter in and out,
With the pull and push of medium, the lovely scrape, the brush,
the eccentric old spirit!
With feelings and meanings and criticism on my back.

To you I stand and wait, and patient should I stand!
The time will come where creative minds kick in, to imagine,
what things we will create,
And in the meantime, rise and up smell the roses,
in the high noon. The Artistic Task
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