Why is Walt Whitman a great poet?

Why is Walt Whitman a great poet?

Whitman was maybe the country's first democratic poet. His use of free poetry in his work represents a newly naturalized and approachable poetic language. His overriding themes—the person, the country, the body, the soul, and everyday life and work—reflect America's foundational beliefs. Whitman helped to change how people thought about poetry by making it accessible and appealing to more than just the rich or educated.

He also challenged traditional notions of what made something worthy of being called art. Previously, poems were seen as useful tools for educating or entertaining readers--they imparted knowledge or showed skill through form and arrangement of words. With Whitman, poets began seeing their work as an expression of pure feeling, which could have moral as well as aesthetic value.

Finally, Whitman broke with tradition by not limiting himself to one medium when writing poems. He used prose as well as blank verse (which has regular lines that usually end with a caesura or break in tone) and experimental forms such as sestinas (six-line poems containing three quatrains and two sestets). This openness to new ways of expressing oneself was important in establishing modern poetry as a distinct genre.

Whitman was a strong supporter of the Union during the Civil War. His poems are full of patriotism and reverence for American soldiers who had been killed in battle.

What does Walt Whitman think about America?

"The United States is, in essence, the greatest poetry." Whitman's argument arose from a concept that both poetry and democracy draw their force from their ability to form a cohesive whole out of divergent parts—a idea that is especially pertinent in an era when America feels brutally divided. In addition to being one of the founders of modernism and a major influence on T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, and William Faulkner, Whitman was also one of the first American poets to recognize the importance of slavery as an issue in his country's history.

In a 1855 letter to Horace Greeley, who at the time was editor of the New-York Tribune, Whitman wrote, "To be sure 'America' is great, but what has America ever done for great poetry? Not at all, or hardly anything. It may be said to have begun with Emerson and to have ended with me. Its impact has been exclusively moral; it has not given access to new regions of emotion or intellect. The fact is undeniable & painful."

Whitman had strong opinions about the role that literature should play in society. He believed that poetry could help transform people's understanding of reality and encourage them to act more compassionately, so he frequently wrote poems addressing issues such as slavery, war, and injustice.

Why does Walt Whitman call the United States essentially the greatest poem?

The United States is essentially the greatest poetry. This is due to the mix of races, rich and poor, "a teeming nation of nationalities," where being a poet means being "commensurate with a people." Whitman is concerned in the prelude with the attributes of great poets and their impact on others. He concludes that while some individuals are born great, most achieve greatness through struggle and courage. The United States, he believes, is full of such individuals.

Whitman uses several lines from "O Captain! My Captain!" to describe the United States: "You sail alone, yet all the world sails with you/Your compass is true, yet you know no north/But carry always south by your own will/So long as there's sun or moon or starry sky,/So long as there's water under the earth,/There'll be men to sail these seas,/And every man who sails them/Will be a captain of his own soul."

This is in agreement with the idea that while some are born great, most become great through struggle and courage. America is full of individuals who have achieved greatness through determination and effort.

Furthermore, the line "You sail alone, yet all the world sails with you" shows that the United States is unique but at the same time shares its values with other nations.

Why was Whitman regarded as a revolutionary writer in his time?

Whitman staked his claim to the position of national poet on his being the inevitable artistic outgrowth of the political goals of the American Revolution. The poet, like many of his contemporaries, saw the revolution as more than just the heroic birth of his nation, but as a continual mandate for democratic reform. For him, this meant not only freedom from Britain's tyranny, but also the right to develop the country into a fully functional democracy.

In addition to being America's first great popular poet, Walt Whitman was also considered one of the founders of modern journalism. He invented a new form of expression that combined poetry and prose, which he called "Leaves of Grass." This unprecedented work, published in 1855, was praised by Thomas Carlyle and Ralph Waldo Emerson, among others. It is still considered one of the founding documents of the modern literary genre known as "free verse."

Whitman's commitment to democratic ideals led to his involvement in several important movements during his lifetime. He traveled to Washington, D.C. in 1842 at the age of 26 to offer his services as a guide because no one else would take him on such a trip. While there, he met with members of Congress to discuss ways to improve conditions for laborers on government projects, and he also gave speeches advocating for the creation of free schools across the country.

What about reading Whitman most attracts the narrator?

We provide quotes and helpful links to help you appreciate one of the most important works of poetry by an American author. The narrator was particularly struck by Whitman's reading because it made her understand how open she might be while expressing herself in America. She also found his readings inspiring because they made her feel like joining him on a journey across the country.

Whitman has been called the "poet of democracy" because of his promotion of individual freedom and equality under law through his poems. While the narrator appreciates this aspect of his work, she also finds his devotion to liberty disturbing because it makes him seem like a radical who rejects tradition in favor of something new. She concludes that despite their differences, the poet and the reader share many values because they are both looking for freedom from oppression wherever they may live or travel.

The character also finds Whitman's teachings useful because they make her think critically about what she believes and teaches others. Through his poems, he encourages people to see themselves as equal parts spirit and body, which is something that most teachers would agree with today. However, back then this idea was unusual because it challenged traditional gender roles that defined women's place as being inside the home.

Finally, the narrator realizes that she can learn much from Whitman's reading experience because it makes her aware of the fact that life is full of uncertainties and we should be ready to deal with them.

About Article Author

James Schenk

James Schenk has been writing for over 10 years. His areas of expertise include poetry, prose, and poetry translation. He has translated poems from German into English and vice-versa. His favorite thing about his job is that it gives him the opportunity to learn new things every day!


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