Friday, February 10, 2012

Whitman

Is there really any poet quite as wonderful to read as Whitman? No matter how cynical a person is, the way Whitman writes about people makes them easy to love, and makes it easy to think well of them when they probably do not deserve it. In the time between reading the poetry and having someone dissapoint expectations the world seems like a really good place to be because of the way he writes.

Whitman is a little bit hard to compare to anyone else who has ever existed, but it is possible. Like the Trancendentalists, Whitman saw God differently than most people. The Trancendentalists believed in God as a spirit inside everyone instead of a supreme being. Whitman saw God as a supreme being, but he also saw everyone else as a supreme being equal with God. In one poem he writes "Have you thought there could be but a single Supreme?" (Whitman 12).

Whitman is a little bit strange on his ideas about individuals and collectives. The Trancendentalists were absolute lovers of individual freedom, and saw individuals as the basis of society. Whitman had a sincere love of individuals, but he also loved all individuals, which made it seem like he favored collectives. In the same poem as quoted above he writes "All is eligible to all, All is for individuals" (Whitman 14-15).

Unlike Emerson and Thoreau, Whitman loved all people, so he had no dislike of society. He appreciated the city as well as the country. It might have had something to do with Whitman's love of all people. The trancendentalists were picky about people, so they prefered to be alone instead of around everyone. Whitman loved everyone, so he wanted to be around everyone. He had a strange balance of thinking everyone was equal and that he, as a poet, was better than everyone else. These thoughts naturally conflict, but as Whitman wrote "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself."

Whitman loved nature as well as society, and wrote a good deal of poetry on the subject. Longabucco saw a parallel between the way a poet sees nature and the way a reader sees poets. The subject being considered is simple on the surface, but very deep and complicated underneath.

Longabucco, Matt. "'The Proof of a Poet'—Walt Whitman and His Critics." In Bloom, Harold, ed. Walt Whitman, Bloom's BioCritiques. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishing, 2002. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 10 Feb. 2012. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= BCWWh03&SingleRecord=True.

Whitman, Walt. "1. (Leaves of Grass [1860])." The Walt Whitman Archive. Web. 11 Feb. 2012. .

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