Differences Between Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson

Topics: Poetry, Rhyme, Walt Whitman Pages: 8 (3120 words) Published: April 22, 2012
Differences Between Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson
Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson's works have numerous differences. Compared to Dickinson's short and seemingly simple poems, Whitman's are long and often complex. Both pioneered their own unique style of writing. Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson both have been hailed as original and unique artists. They each have distinctive voices that many have attempted to replicate and have been unable to do so. Whitman wrote in epic like proportions; he developed his own rhythmic structure, creating complex lines and stanzas. Whitman's style of free verse become synonymous with his name and works, and helped distinguish him as a great American poet. By using free verse poetry, Whitman tore down the boundary and structure of traditional poetry with the rhythm of cadence, allowing all types of people to use poetry as a form of expression. Whitman's poems tend to run on and on; there was no set length for his poems, stanzas, or even lines. Dickinson, on the other hand, wrote poems with a definite structure. She wrote ballad stanzas, which were four line stanzas alternating in iambic tetrameter and trimeter. So the structure of their poems is very different. Another difference between their poetry is the use of rhyme. As with structure, Whitman's poetry has no rhyme. In this way Whitman also breaks from tradition. Dickinson's poems, unlike Whitman's, made use of slant rhyme. This is the use of near or approximate rhymes, and is a relatively modern idea. So this is yet another way in which they differ in style. First, the most forthcoming evidence of their differences would be the structure that the poets use to express themselves through. Whitman uses free verse in his poems. A clear representation of this is any excerpt from "Song of Myself". This poem has a set rhythm, but no definite rhyme scheme. "The Yankee clipper is under her sky-sails, she cuts the sparkle and scud, / My eyes settle the land, I bend at her prow or shout joyously from the deck." (Whitman- "Song of Myself 10." lines 6-7) This makes the poem less appealing to read but leaves a lot more room for expression from the author. Dickinson, however, uses well planned out short lines of rhymes. Her poems don't usually consist of many more than 6 words per line and are written in verse. This gives each poem an easier pattern and flow to comprehend. These poems may not sound as sophisticated, but are equally brilliant. "If you were coming in the Fall, / I'd brush the Summer by / With half a smile, and half a spurn, / As Housewives do a fly." (Dickinson- "If you were coming...

His preoccupation with sex, the human body, and numerous other "taboo" subjects, changed the American publics view of poetry. Dickinson's works are just as unique, due mainly to her odd placement of punctuation, unusual grammar, and simplicity of language. Her lines end abruptly, outwardly innocuous words are often capitalized, and her tendency to write meters typical of hymnals all distinguishes her from other writers Although they were both Romantics, Whitman and Dickinson were so different from each other. Whitman grew up reading a myriad amount of literary works, including Homer's Odyssey and the Bible. His poetry is reflective of the works he read in his early years. Dickinson, on the other hand, learned how to read and write in a time period of male authority. Her poetry is metaphysical, and expressive of her soul. Together, Whitman and Dickinson marked a turning point in American poetry. In the poem, "Song of Myself," Whitman opens with an oceanic scene of a skipper who struggles to save the weary passengers of a sinking ship that is hit by a violent storm. As the skipper watches the wrath of the storm, Whitman uses personification to bring life out of the scene. "How the skipper saw the crowded and rudderless wreck of the steam-ship, and Death chasing it up and down the storm" (Whitman 1). The death that chases the ship up and down the...
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