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Unit Seven Walt Whitman

发布时间:2014-02-12 13:04:21  

Walt Whitman 1819-1892

Early Childhood
? Born ? The

on Long Island, New York
he was four, moved to Brooklyn

second of nine children

? When

? Attended

school for only six years before becoming a printer’s apprentice entirely self-educated, especially admiring the work of Dante, Shakespeare, and Homer.

? Almost

? His

mother described him as ―very good, but very strange.‖ ? His brother described him as being ―stubborner [sic] than a load of bricks.‖

Young Man
? ? ?

Worked in various print shops in New York City
At 17, started his career as a teacher Taught for five years

?
? ? ?

Then turned to journalism full-time
Became editor of the New Orleans Crescent

There saw slavery first hand
Moved back to Brooklyn and started a ―free soil‖ newspaper, 1848

Poetry Pioneer
?

1855 self-publishes his first version of Leaves of Grass ? 12 untitled poems ? Sent a copy to Emerson ? Used Emerson’s reply in his next edition – without his permission

Civil War Years
?

Moves to Washington D.C. to care for his brother (wounded at Antietam) Worked in hospitals and as a clerk at the Department of the Interior

?

Whitman and Lincoln
? ? ? ?

Never met
But Whitman saw Lincoln many times Greatly admired the man

Greatly affected by his assassination

Post War/Later Years
?

Moves to Camden, NJ to care for his mother ? Suffers a stroke; finds it impossible to move back to Washington ? 1882 publication of Leaves of Grass makes him enough money to buy a home

End of his Life
? Kept

revising poetry ? Last book published 1891 ? Dies on March 26, 1862 ? Buried in Camden in tomb of his own design ? His autopsy revealed his cause of death as emphysema.

Whitman’s Poetry
Whitman declared his poetry would have:
?

? ? ?

Long lines that capture the rhythms of natural speech. Free verse. Vocabulary drawn from everyday speech. A base in reality, not morality.

Leaves of Grass
? The

first version of his masterpiece, Leaves of Grass, appeared in 1855. ? Emerson praised Whitman’s poetry as ―the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet to contribute.‖ ? Whitman used these words, written by Emerson in a letter to Whitman, in a later introduction to Leaves of Grass. Emerson was not amused.

? John

Greenleaf Whittier threw his copy of the book into the fireplace. ? Another critic dismissed it as ―just a barbaric yawp.‖ ? Longfellow, Holmes, and Lowell were equally unimpressed. ? Even Thoreau was appalled by Whitman’s poetry, and he was certainly no conformist!

What’s his deal?
?

Why were so many writers shocked by Whitman? ? His lack of regular rhyme and meter (free verse) and nontraditional poetic style and subject matter shocked more traditional writers. ? He also wrote poetry with unabashedly sexual imagery and themes, some of them homoerotic. Examples include the Calamus poems and ―I Sing the Body Electric

.‖

O Captain! My Captain!
? Whitman

wrote poetry in praise of Abraham

Lincoln
?

?

―When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d‖ (an elegy written after Lincoln’s assassination). ―O Captain! My Captain!‖ memorializes Lincoln’s passing as the death of a great man and the death of the era he dominated. It was used to great effect in Dead Poets’ Society.

Whitman’s Influence
? Along

with Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman stands as one of two giants of American poetry in the nineteenth century. ? Whitman’s poetry would influence such Harlem Renaissance writers as Langston Hughes and James Weldon Johnson. ? Whitman influenced Beat poets such as Allen Ginsburg.

? Chilean

writer Pablo Neruda claimed to have been influenced by Whitman. ? Whitman’s poetry was a model for French symbolists, such as Stéphane Mallarmé, Paul Verlaine, and Arthur Rimbaud. ? Modernist poets such as Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, and W.H. Auden were also influenced by Whitman.

?

Whitman created new poetic forms and subjects to fashion a distinctly American type of poetic expression. ? He rejected conventional themes, traditional literary references, allusions, and rhyme—all the accepted forms of poetry in the 19th century. ? He uses long lines to capture the rhythms of natural speech, free verse, and vocabulary drawn from everyday speech.


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