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Poetry for a New World


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Title: Poetry for a New World

Poetry for a New World
Poetry For a New World
  • Walt Whitman
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Edgar Allan Poe

Walt Whitman(1819-1892)
Leaves of Grass
Brief Introduction to Whitman
  • Working as a printer, editor, journalist, and
    publisher during the years of the publishing
    industry's phenomenal growth, Whitman became
    keenly aware that the tools necessary for his
    emergence as the new, democratic poet were at his
    disposal. He believed he could bring poetry to
    the common people, and with the publication of
    his 1855 Leaves of Grass, he assumed for himself
    the role of the American Poet, referring to
    himself as "one of the roughs," a common man.

  • Whitman carefully continued to cultivate his
    literary personality throughout his career.As he
    revised and enlarged Leaves of Grass (8 editions
    and numerous printings would appear between 1855
    and 1891), Whitman's goal as the self-styled
    national poet became more clearly defined. Leaves
    of Grass is essentially a poem in process, with
    each succeeding edition representing a unique
    period in the poet's life as well as the

The Major Themes of his Poem
  • The absolute intransigent individualism
  • The combination of a proud individualism with
    perfect equality

The Rhythm of Whitmans poetry
  • Free Verse
  • The differences between
  • Free verse and Blank verse

The Difference between Blank verse and Free Verse
  • The wonderful thing about free verse, is that it
    has very few distinct rules. It is similar to
    blank verse in that it does not rhyme, but unlike
    blank verse, it is not written in iambic
  • The rhythm or cadence of free verse varies
    throughout the poem. Though the words don't
    rhyme, they flow along their own uneven pattern.

Free Verse
  • Poetry that is based on the irregular rhythmic
    CADENCE or the recurrence, with variations, of
    phrases, images, and syntactical patterns rather
    than the conventional use of METER. RHYME may or
    may not be present in free verse, but when it is,
    it is used with great freedom. In conventional
    VERSE the unit is the FOOT, or the line in free
    verse the units are larger, sometimes being
    paragraphs . If the free verse unit is the line,
    as it is in Whitman, the line is determined by
    qualities of RHYTHM and thought rather than FEET.

Free Verse
  • In the twentieth century free verse has had
    widespread usage by most poets, of whom T. S.
    Eliot, Ezra Pound, Carl Sandburg, and William
    Carlos Williams are representative. Such a list
    indicates the great variety of subject matter,
    effect and tone that is possible in free verse,
    and shows that it is much less a rebellion
    against traditional English METRICS than a
    modification and extension of the resources of
    our language.

Whitmans Poetic Techniques
  • Parallelism
  • Phonetic Recurrence
  • Vignettes

(No Transcript)
Song of Myself
  • I Celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I
    assume you shall assume, For every atom
    belonging to me as good belongs to you. I loafe
    and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease
    observing a spear of summer grass.

  • My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from
    this soil, this air, Born here of parents born
    here from parents the same, and their parents the
    same, I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect
    health begin, Hoping to cease not till death.
    Creeds and schools in abeyance, Retiring back
    a while sufficed at what they are, but never
    forgotten, I harbor for good or bad, I permit to
    speak at every hazard, Nature without check with
    original energy.  

(No Transcript)
The Symbol of Grass
  • The answer to the question is in many ways the
    entire poem (As we have already seen the entire
    poem is formally structured around the grass).
    Whitman sees the grass as the recapitulation of
    the whole cycle of life, death and rebirth it
    the symbol of the individual ("the flag of my
    disposition"), of Deity ("the handkerchief of the
    Lord"), of reproduction ("the produced babe of
    the vegetation"), of the new social order of
    American democracy ("a uniform hieroglyphic"), of
    death ("the beautiful uncut hair of graves").

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomd
  • Background Information
  • Of all the many poems written about the
    assassination of Abraham Lincoln, this one by
    Walt Whitman may well be the most well known.
    Although somewhat more abstract than his shorter
    "O, Captain! My Captain!", it nevertheless
    carries an emotional punch that the more
    accessible verses lack.

(No Transcript)
  • The poem unites two broad themes that absorbed
    the poet
  • 1 America, "my land" (typified by its great
  • 2 Death, "the dark mother" of all of us.

  • In the text we find three symbols largely
  • 1 the star (Lincoln)
  • 2 the lilac (in Eastern symbolism a connection
    with manly love)
  • 3 the hermit thrush (the poet singing of death).

The symbol of Lilacs
  • The lilacs symbolize the poet's love and homage.
    As a true romantic symbol, they draw fully on the
    natural characteristics of the flower to create
    meaning that meaning develops with repetition
    throughout the poem, which can be traced by
    following the links from the first reference. The
    flower is extremely aromatic, with a scent that
    carries a distance. Lilac bushes can live for
    hundreds of years,It symbolizes the love for the
    great president will last for ever.

The Symbol of Star
  • Venus, which often appears as the "evening star,"
    brightest at twilight in the Western sky before
    it drops into the west, is earth's planetary
    "twin." April is also the month of Venus. Note
    that when the planet is lowest on the horizon,
    like the rising moon, it appears larger and
    orange because of the earth's atmosphere.
    President Lincoln was assassinated and died on
    April 15, 1865, at a time when Venus appeared as
    the "evening star," and for Whitman, this
    statesman from the west is represented by Venus.

The Symbol of Thrush
  • As you trace this symbol, note that the bird is
    closely paralleled with the poet, "tallying" his
    soul with his song. Its song, is an elegy which
    confronts and accepts death. This is a lyric
    within a lyric and is a structure that resembles
    music as an emotional experience rather than
    music for its own sake.

Emily Dickinson(1830-1886)
  • Dickinson's poetic accomplishment was recognized
    from the moment her first volume appeared in
    1890, but never has she enjoyed more acclaim than
    she does today. Once Thomas H. Johnson made her
    complete body of 1,775 poems available in his
    1955 variorum edition, The Poems of Emily
    Dickinson, interest from all quarters soared.
    Readers immediately discovered a poet of immense
    depth and stylistic complexity whose work eludes

Emily Dickinson
(No Transcript)
Dickinsons bedroom
The Theme in Dickinsons poetry
  • Poetry of Nature
  • Poetry of Ecstasy and Despair
  • Poetry of Death and immortality
  • Poetry of Art and Word
  • Poetry of love

Poetry of Nature
  • A Bird came down the Walk
  • He did not know I saw
  • He bit an Angleworm in halves
  • And ate the fellow, raw,
  • And then he drank a Dew
  • From a convenient Grass
  • And then hopped sidewise to the Wall To let a
    Beetle pass
  • He glanced with rapid eyes That hurried all
  • They looked like frightened Beads, I thought
  • He stirred his Velvet Head
  • Like one in danger, Cautious,
  • I offered him a Crumb
  • And he unrolled his feathers And rowed him softer
    home -- Than Oars divide the Ocean, Too silver
    for a seam
  • Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon
  • Leap, plashless as they swim.

(No Transcript)
The Theme of A Bird
  • The relationship between man and
    nature---alienation exists between man and nature.

Rhyme and Meter
  • "A Bird Came Down the Walk." is an excellent
    example of how poets use varying styles of rhyme
    and meter to bring a poem to life. Dickinson
    expertly uses meter to show how the bird acts on
    the ground and in the air. The poem is five
    quatrains long. In each stanza, except for the
    fourth, uses iambic trimeter in every line but
    the fourth line which uses iambic tetrameter. The
    fourth stanza uses iambic trimeter in all four

Poetry of Ecstasy and Despair
  • The Soul selects her own Society -- Then -- shuts
    the Door
  • To her divine Majority
  • Present no more
  • Unmoved -- she notes the Chariots -- pausing
  • At her low Gate
  • Unmoved -- an Emperor be kneeling
  • Upon her Mat
  • I've known her
  • from an ample nation
  • Choose One
  • Then -- close the Valves of her attention -- Like
    Stone --

  • Soul- a woman of high rank
  • Society-companion ,either her lover ,Wadsworth or
    her poetry

Poetry of Death and immortality
  • I died for Beauty -- but was scarce
  • Adjusted in the Tomb
  • When One who died for Truth, was lain
  • In an adjoining room
  • He questioned softly "Why I failed"?
  • "For Beauty", I replied
  • "And I -- for Truth -- Themself are One
  • We Brethren, are", He said
  • And so, as Kinsmen, met a Night
  • We talked between the Rooms
  • Until the Moss had reached our lips
  • And covered up -- our names --

  • I heard a Fly buzz -- when I died
  • The Stillness in the Room
  • Was like the Stillness in the Air
  • Between the Heaves of Storm
  • The Eyes around -- had wrung them dry -- And
    Breaths were gathering firm
  • For that last Onset
  • when the King Be witnessed
  • in the Room -- I willed my Keepsakes -- Signed
    away What portion of me be Assignable
  • and then it was There interposed a Fly
  • With Blue -- uncertain stumbling Buzz -- Between
    the light
  • and me -- And then the Windows failed
  • and then I could not see to see --

  • The image of fly is used successfully
  • By combining the color and voicethe poet
    creates the state of mind in chaos when one is
  • The poem describes the process of dying.
  • The poem shows the poets suspicion towards

Because I Could Not Stop for Death
Gazing Grain
Setting Sun
Because I Could Not Stop for Death
  • The poem is a dramatic representation of the
    passage from this world of the living to
    afterlife. The school,the fields of gazing
    grains, setting sun summarize the process and
    passage of a lifetime.
  • Death courtly suitor
  • fraudulent seducer
  • The poem reflects a basic ambiguity about death
    and immortality.

Poetry of Art and Word
  • I taste a liquor never brewed
  • From Tankards scooped in Pearl
  • Not all the Vats upon the Rhine Yield such an
    Alcohol! Inebriate of Air -- am I
  • And Debauchee of Dew -- Reeling
  • thro endless summer days
  • From inns of Molten Blue
  • When "Landlords" turn the drunken Bee Out of the
    Foxglove's door
  • When Butterflies -- renounce their "drams"
  • I shall but drink the more!
  • Till Seraphs swing their snowy Hats
  • And Saints -- to windows run
  • To see the little Tippler Leaning
  • against the -- Sun --

  • Dickinson believes that the inspiration comes
    from nature, and only if a poet had inspiration
    can he write a perfect poem.

Rhine River
Debauchee of Dew
Poetry of Love
  • Wile Nights-Wild Nights!
  • Were I with thee
  • Wild Nights should be
  • Our luxury!
  • Futile-the Wilds-
  • To a Heart in port-
  • Done with the Compass-
  • Done with the Chart!
  • Rowing in Eden-
  • Ah, the Sea!
  • Might I but moor- Tonight-
  • in Thee!

  • The speaker reveals all her innermost feeling to
    her lover.
  • Love is expressed in an unabashed manner.
  • The boat and sea are used as symbols of the

Features of her Style
  • Full of images- the precursor of Imagist
  • Deviation-
  • Graphological Deviation-dash and
    capitalization were frequently used.
  • Syntactic Deviation-departure from normal
  • Economy of expression

Differences between Whitman and Dickinson
  • Whitman world at largeDickinson-inner life
  • Whitman- nationalDickinson-regional
  • Whitman-endless and all-inclusiveDickinson-concis
    e ,direct and simple
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