Brilliant Mavericks: Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson
* Both answered the challenge of uniquely “American” poet – “a
truly fresh voice with limitless passion and originality.”
* Walt Whitman was gregarious and outspoken; Dickinson was
shy and reclusive.
*Both broke the rules of conventional poetry.
*Whitman used free verse to write about everything American,
even if it was vulgar, coarse, or common.
*Free verse is poetry that is unconfined by formal patterns of
rhyme and meter. Whitman’s poems are loose and rambling with
vigorous and colorful language.
*Dickinson’s poems are terse and compressed – a few brief lines
packed with complex, original images.
*Her poetry was extremely personal, and her themes were life,
love, death, immortality, and nature.
*These poets are considered transitional poets because they helped
literature move from romanticism to realism.
I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing
I SAW in Louisiana a live-oak growing,
All alone stood it and the moss hung down from the branches,
Without any companion it grew there uttering joyous of dark
And its look, rude, unbending, lusty, made me think of myself,
But I wonder'd how it could utter joyous leaves standing alone
without its friend near, for I knew I could not,
And I broke off a twig with a certain number of leaves upon it and
twined around it a little moss,
And brought it away, and I have placed it in sight in my room,
It is not needed to remind me as of my own dear friends,
(For I believe lately I think of little else than of them,)
Yet it remains to me a curious token, it makes me think of manly
For all that, and though the live-oak glistens there in Louisiana
solitary in a wide in a wide flat space,
Uttering joyous leaves all its life without a friend a lover near,
I know very well I could not.
When I heard the Learn’d Astronomer
WHEN I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add,
divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured
with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick; 5
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.