Emily Dickinson

Topics: Emily Dickinson, Poetry, Walt Whitman / Pages: 10 (2430 words) / Published: Sep 8th, 2013
“Dickinson and Whitman: Breakthrough Poets”
By Maggie Smith Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman are two poets that helped shape the way we think about poetry. While their backgrounds and writing styles were quite different, both Dickinson and Whitman challenged accepted forms of writing and are regarded today as important poets. Dickinson and Whitman had very different upbringings. Dickinson was raised in Amherst, Massachusetts and had two siblings. She was always put in the best schools and even received a college education at Mount Holyoke. Her family was relatively wealthy and she did not have to work in order to help them. In contrast to Dickinson’s privileged upbringing, Whitman came from a very poor family. He had eight siblings, which made money for his family very tight. Since he was the second oldest child, he stopped going to school when he turned eleven and began working to support his family. Whitman worked all of his life, including jobs as a journalist, teacher, government clerk, and nurse in the Civil War. Using death as a theme is probably the strongest connection that Whitman and Dickinson share. Whitman’s view on death is reflective of his belief in Transcendentalism. In “Song of Myself,” Whitman asserts that there is life after death, because energy cannot be destroyed; only transformed. In stanza six, he writes, “And what do you think has become of the women and children?/ They are alive and well somewhere,/ The smallest sprouts shows there is really no death” (“Song of Myself” lines 24-26). Whitman contends that life remains long after death, and to find him now all one must do is look “under your boot-soles” (“Song of Myself” line 30). Dickinson’s writings on death are more complex and paradoxical. She personifies death, generally seeing as a lord or as a compelling lover. In one of her more popular poems, “Because I could not stop for Death,” death is like a kind courter. He picks her up in a
“Carriage held but just for



Bibliography: Poetry Poems by Emily Dickinson (1890) Poems: Second Series (1891) Poems: Third Series (1896) The Single Hound: Poems of a Lifetime (1914) The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (1924) Further Poems of Emily Dickinson: Withheld from Publication by Her Sister Lavinia (1929) Unpublished Poems of Emily Dickinson (1935) Bolts of Melody: New Poems of Emily Dickinson (1945) The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (1960) Final Harvest: Emily Dickinson 's Poems (1962) Prose Letters of Emily Dickinson (1894) Emily Dickinson Face to Face: Unpublished Letters with Notes and Reminisces (1932) - See more at: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/155#sthash.SQbrNClV.dpuf Profile Born on December 10, 1830, in Amherst, Massachusetts, Emily Dickinson was educated at Amherst Academy from 1840 to 1847 and Mount Holyoke Female Seminary from 1847 to 1848

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