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WALT WHITMAN. Poetic Influences and Themes. SPIRTUALITY. Whitman underwent some sort of spiritual experience in the 1850’s that was transformative to his life - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • WALT WHITMANPoetic Influences and Themes

  • SPIRTUALITYWhitman underwent some sort of spiritual experience in the 1850s that was transformative to his life When Whitman referred to spirituality, he was referring to his belief that every human being was part of the One a concept that reflected transcendentalist influences

  • EMPHASIS ON THE BODYWhitman saw the human body as Gods greatest creationHe celebrated the human body and emphasized its goodness, cleanliness, and purity

  • CELEBRATION AND PRAISEWhitman viewed his poetry as a celebration of humankindHis poetry praises the American spirit and embraces lifeHe saw this spirit in the working hands of Americans the bricklayers, the carpenters, the ditch diggers, the knife sharpeners, etc.

  • LOVE FOR ALL THINGS GOOD & EVILWhitmans poetry explored and celebrated the goodness of life and evilness of life in equal termsWhitmans poetry showed love and compassion equally for those who were good and those who were evil

  • EQUALITYWhitman was known as a democratic poetHis poetry emphasized the equality of all humans, including Blacks and womenThis was not a commonly held view at the time and caused controversy

  • THE CATALOGWhitmans poetry often cataloged, or listed, a multitude of images or examplesThese images and examples were described in great detailThese images and examples were emphasized equallyAt times this cataloging/listing would cover multiple pages

  • SIMULTANEITY OF EVENTSWhitmans poetry often expressed chains of related events happening simultaneously (at the same time)This technique gave his poetry a sense of timelessnessWhitman saw himself standing at the center of time, viewing all events past, present, and future

  • REPETITIONWhitmans poetry coupled the literary device of repetition with cataloging and the simultaneity of eventsThe repetitiveness created a cadence, almost like a religious chant

  • REPETITIONHe used a literary device called anaphora the repetition of the same word or words at the beginning of a line of poetryHe also used a literary device called epistrophe the repetition of the same word or words at the end of a line of poetry

  • INTIMACY OF ADDRESSThe voice that Whitman expressed in his poetry was warm, welcoming, and familiarWhitman wanted the reader to become a part of his poem

  • SEXUALITYWhitmans poetry was blunt and unashamed in its expressions of sexualityThis sexuality extended to both female and male

  • INDIVIDUALITYEven though Whitman listed vast numbers of people and occupations, his poetry greatly valued the importance of the individual in a democratic system

  • THE USE OF IWhitmans poetry is written from the first person point of view the I viewThe first person poetic narrator was rarely found in poetry of Whitmans dayThis form of narration personalized and made intimate his poetry

  • MIX OF DICTIONWhitmans poetry used the common language and expressions of the people of his dayWhitmans poetry also used the poetic diction of an educated scholar

  • POETRY OF THE CITYWhitmans poetry was among the first to explore the vibrancy of city lifeWhitmans poetry reflected the energy below and on the surface of New York City

  • THE LONG LINEOne clear stylistic technique of Whitmans poetry was the use of the long lineThese long lines of verse rolled over the reader like a never-ending series of ocean waves

    from Song of Myself

    The married and unmarried children ride home to their Thanksgiving dinner, The pilot seizes the king-pin, he heaves down with a strong arm, The mate stands braced in the whale-boat, lance and harpoon are ready, The duck-shooter walks by silent and cautious stretches, The deacons are ordain'd with cross'd hands at the altar, The spinning-girl retreats and advances to the hum of the big wheel, The farmer stops by the bars as he walks on a First-day loafe and looks at the oats and rye, The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum a confirm'd case, (He will never sleep any more as he did in the cot in his mother's bed-room;) The jour printer with gray head and gaunt jaws works at his case, He turns his quid of tobacco while his eyes blurr with the manuscript; The malform'd limbs are tied to the surgeon's table, What is removed drops horribly in a pail;

  • THE USE OF THE ELLIPSISWhitman often combined long poetic lines with an ellipsisThis punctuation technique intimated, if possible, that Whitman had left some things unsaid or unlistedIt also allowed the reader a pause to take a breath