Walt Whitman’s Legacy in American Free Verse
An American poet who desired to stand out from the crowd. At the time, free verse appeared to be strange poetry writing format that didn’t have any rules. But Walt Whitman learnt to embrace this form of writing, and is known today for it. Walt Whitman was a transcendentalist who expressed his beliefs and perspective freely. He chose to cover a diverse array of themes ranging from elegies, democracy, equality , death and growth to sexuality. Thus he employed free verse as his mode of writing since it gave him the liberty to elucidate on various topics and themes. It was a feat to perfect it at his time, as poets rarely used this type of format. Many would say that Walt Whitman introduced free verse to poetry writing, but he was simply instrumental in bringing it back in vogue. Free verse, in short, doesn’t use the basic literary devices. In Whitman’s case, it added a narrative touch to it. For example, if we take this piece written by Whitman. ‘ I DREAM'D in a dream I saw a city invincible to the attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth,
I dream'd that was the new city of Friends,
Nothing was greater there than the quality of robust love, it led the rest,
It was seen every hour in the actions of the men of that city, And in all their looks and words.’
Usually we don’t find a distinct rhyme scheme, a rhythm, assonance, alliteration or imagery in particular. His free verse was mostly prose-like. Whitman simply produced sentences in mere stanzas. This broke the long held norms of writing. Some of the other poems written in this style are ‘The Sleepers’, ‘The Song of Occupations’, ‘Crossing Brooklyn Ferry’, ‘By Blue Ontario’s Shore’ and ‘Song Of The Broadaxe’. If we looked into these pieces, we could analyze the way each was written. It would be apparent that he was attempting to find his writing style and was just experimenting with the freedom that came with free verse writing....
Bibliography: Donald, K. D. (2009). A Companion To Walt Whitman. In K. D. Donald, A Companion To Walt Whitman (pp. 383 - 384). United Kingdom: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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