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This short poem is divided into two stanzas: One of the shortest poems on this list, this poem was also featured in Dead Poets Society: Another tribute to America as a self-made country and to the pioneering spirit of its people, and a nice counterbalance to the more personal and individual poems on this list.

Selected Criticism

Pearsall in , Wikimedia Commons. Reblogged this on creativebentofmind and commented: Create a free website or blog at WordPress.


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A Short Analysis of W. The best poems by Walt Whitman Walt Whitman , with his innovative free verse and celebration of the American landscape, made his poetry a sort of literary declaration of independence, seeking to move away from the literary tradition associated with the Old World and forge a new, distinctly American literature. About interestingliterature A blog dedicated to rooting out the interesting stuff about classic books and authors.

In what I would very hesitantly call my spiritual life, I don't believe for a moment in immortality, though like all humans I can occasionally find myself reflexively longing towards it. On the other hand, when I give myself over to Leaves of Grass , I come marvelously close to having something like an intuition of deathlessness, an experience that blossoms out of the fusion of that primitive instinct to go on forever, with the poetic force of the matter of Whitman's song.

The Walt Whitman Archive

The audacity of Whitman 's meditations on and challenges to mortality in the poems is astonishing; they were clearly a key element of his intentions. But what do you do if you seriously want to confront mortality, as a greatest poet, as even, possibly, a prophet? There are so many genres of immortality: Whitman proposes an immortality of the poem, of the poet, and the reader. Essentially what he is saying is that if we allow ourselves to participate in the force of his vision, and surely as important of his singing, his cadence, the swell of his voice and its surge, we will be comforted and solaced even more than by the outmoded precepts of traditional religions.

So Long by Walt Whitman - Poems | Academy of American Poets

He learns the lesson. What Whitman does is overwhelm death with acceptance, obliterate it with example, with instance, with obsessively reiterated reassurance.

Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and the Civil War: Inventing the Poetry of Mass Death

In the section of the Leaves of Grass ultimately entitled " To Think of Time ," but which as well could be called "To Think of Death," he begins by speaking of the wonders of mortal existence. Then another death is recounted, in a less generalized, more elaborate way: A man who lived with energy, waned, suffered, died. Both these deaths, rendered in such touching detail, with such evident deep sympathy, are like nothing we'd find in Torahs or Korans or Gospels: And subsequent to those deaths, the poem shifts to pleasure, of all things, pleasure as a concept that exceeds the concept of morality, and by extension in its extending of mortality.


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  • And if we've been reading attentively, we can recall from " Song of Myself " the first hints of this method of overwhelming, of unlikely convincing. Yet why does it sound so And later in the "Song":. Now one of those passages that, despite by deep disbelief in anything like eternal life, brings me thrillingly close to something like Wordsworth's intimations of immortality, of the possibility of possessing a consciousness able to grasp this overwhelming intuition.

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    He goes on and on, more and more deaths—"Slowmoving and black lines go ceaselessly over the earth"—more and more vast, convincing promises—"I have dreamed that we are not to be changed so much. And at last the vision, the culmination of the promise, and the more than delight in the promise. The Leaves will come back again and again to the challenge of death.

    On Whitman: Mortality

    In the very next "Sleepers" section, as though remembering:. And there will be yet another individual death in that section, of a man drowning, told in almost gruesome detail. Yet the demise of one single person, being so profoundly and imaginatively accounted for, allows a kind of immortality to enfold him as well. More Texts by C. Williams and Robert Fagles.

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    Death to the Death of Poetry. Taking a Walk through Leaves of Grass. To think that the sun rose in the east Then he recounts the details of an actual death: And after that death enacts a subtle but profound shift of point of view: