In this book you’ll find the biographies and some of the work of two great poets: Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson.
Here are included 5 poems written by each poet and a brief analysis with an illustration of each poem. Hope you enjoy it.
Walt Whitman was not recognized as a great poetic force until several decades afterhis death. Born 1819 in Long Island, New York, Whitman began working at the early age of 13, having left school the year before. He was an office boy, then a printer's assistant on several of the newspapers around New York. Occasionally he contributed articles to the papers, writing some of the earliest
reports of baseball games.
From 1836-1841 he taught in schools in the Long Island area,then founded and edited the newspaper The Long Islander from 1836-1841. During this time he continued educating himself reading books, contributing to both fiction and commentary magazines and working as editor of the paper Brooklyn Eagle, though he was fired because of his antislavery views. As a result, he spent a few months in New Orleans for three months writing for the New OrleansCrescent.
It wasn't until 1848 that he began to seriously apply himself to poetry, self-publishing Leaves of Grass, a compilation of 12 of his poems. He had to set the type himself and pay for the book’s publication. This drew the praise of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Leaves of Grass was an intensely personal, free-flowing verse of poetry with frank sexual allusions and therefore regarded by much of thepublic and critics as both scandalous and too radically different--a quality that got him fired from a subsequent job at the Department of Interior when they discovered he was the author of that book of poetry.
Whitman remained undaunted. He kept arranging, rearranging, and adding to Leaves of Grass throughout his lifetime, envisioning all of his work as one vast poem.
He published a secondvolume of poems, Drum Taps, in 1865, better received by the public. During his life he also wrote two prose works, Democratic Vistas, in 1877, and Specimen Days in 1882. In the final “deathbed” edition of Leaves of Grass (1891) there were 383 titled poems, and the person they put on record was one of the most remarkable America has ever produced.
One of the poems that most fully capture theessence of Whitman is “Song of Myself.” It is his celebration of individuality and of his oneness with the world.
Whitman died in Camden in 1892.
“To a Stranger” by Walt Whitman
Passing stranger! You do not know
How longingly I look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking,
Or she I was seeking
(It comes to me as a dream)
I have somewhere surely
Lived a life of joy with you,
Allis recalled as we flit by each other,
Fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,
You grew up with me,
Were a boy with me or a girl with me,
I ate with you and slept with you, your body has become
not yours only nor left my body mine only,
You give me the pleasure of your eyes,
face, flesh as we pass,
You take of my beard, breast, hands,
I am not to speak to you, I am to thinkof you
when I sit alone or wake at night, alone
I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.
With this poem Whitman sees any encounter with a stranger as an opportunity to communicate with them and maybe this communication will allow them to become friends. Perhaps even close friends. He can imagine himself creating a past historywith a stranger, or a future friendship.
-Reason why I chose this poem:
I decided to choose this poem because I think, if you are willing to; make a friendship with a passing stranger. And I’d like to think this may happen someday.
“Among the Multitude” by Walt Whitman
Among the men and women the multitude,
I perceive one picking me out by secret and divine signs,