Before his poetry, Whitman lived in a mall home on Long Island here he grew up with his eight siblings, four of whom were disturbed or psychotic. The father was unheard of and the mother, unable to fend for the entire family, so at a young age Walt became the true father of his family (Bloom 159). Walt Whitman threaded his poetry with his political beliefs, poetic uncertainty, and his strong patriotism that all contribute to the deep, wondrous and mostly undefined meanings of his poems.
In a time of chaos and distraught, Whitman used his poetry to reflect his strong and Influential opinions of societal movement. Whitman first anthology titled Leaves of Grass was Influenced by the democratic presidency of Lincoln in the sass’s. Progress was the topic of the casual cafe setting of this time and Whitman, a commoner, took these ideas and weaved them into his poetry with an optimistic flare.
He used his democratic views and hopes for improvements as a base for much of his poetry: The ideas of progress became the principal of the universe-?as we look up from our provisional Piggish we behold the orbit forms of a benevolent, self – purifying cosmos-?as we lower our gaze the vistas UT over the continent darken somewhat and are populated with villages, rivers, and fields of wheat, factories, mechanics, farmers, patient mothers, small property holders, town meetings-?a nobility if evanescent envisioned myth of social life. Chase The Theory of America 55) Whitman used his work to emphasize the idea that all citizens of America can improve, and that this essence of life applies to everyone not only the poor, but the wealthy and the officials as well. Many did not agree with this, as It Is Just a view, but the Improvements of the sass’s directly convert to our society. A good poet teaches his readers something, but a great poet touches the lives of its readers and allows the change to permeate through society. The astonishment of this era by some of the most influential speakers in history is seen through Whitman words describing his own poetry. A great poem is for ages and ages in common for all degrees and complexions and all departments and sects and for a woman as much as a man and a man as much as a woman” (Whitman Leaves of Grass 6). These words are from the preface to his most renowned anthology, Leaves of Grass, and prepare the reader for his references. Whitman uses equality for the basis of many poems because it is such a broad topic that can be explained in so many ways. His poem “Proud Music of the Storm” reveals how he views the mistreated: Proud music of the storm! Blast that careers so free, whistling across the parries! Strong hum of forest tree-tops!
Wind of the mountains! You serenades of phantoms, with instruments alert, Blending, with Nature’s rhythm’s, all the tongues of nations; You chords left as by vast composers! You choruses! You formless, free, religious dances! Your from the Orient! You undone of rivers, roar of pouring cataracts; You sounds from distant guns, with galloping cavalry! Echoes of camps, with all the different bugle-calls! Trooping tumultuous, filling the midnight late, blending me powerless, Entering my lonesome slumber-chamber– Why have seized me? (Leaves of Grass 1871-72 323) In the poem, Whitman references the oppression of colored people during his time.
He uses an extended metaphor to represent the music as the oppressed people, and the storm as the Civil War. As Whitman describes the music and all its interpretations, he shows how the colored people are different but still beneficial and helpful as much s the white people in society. The poem progresses from a gleeful and embracing mood, to a gloomy and depressive mood, which shows how campaigning for rights can turn violent and out of control very quickly, but can also turn out as a renaissance for man if control. The Civil War was a time of great surprise to many as the outcome was not expected.
Much like one’s life, Whitman poetry mirrors the twists, turns, and unpredictability of life in his poetry while keeping the reader engaged with relatable speakers. Only through the failures did Whitman find his most genius talent. To many, Whitman works do not seem like an accident at all because they are crafted with intelligence and published in perfection, but some see Whitman as so much more than a poet, and that poetry is a mere ability of his, “To read Whitman was to know a man who made himself out to be now visionary, now sage, now prophet, often all three at once– and only incidentally a poet” (Pearce 1 . This author was not alive during Whitman lifetime but he feels he can relate so well to the morals he gets across in his poetry. Whitman did not only write for the public to experience his Houghton, but he also wrote for himself, as he expressed himself in and about his poetry. He used his poetry as a mask for his identity, making it seem more relatable to commoners. “He sacrificed himself to his own image– which he meant to be an all inclusive image of man.
He postured and posed, acted (sometimes behind the scenes) as his own public-relations man, sounded now a barbaric yap, now a lyric cry, now an epic salutation, now a prayerful meditation, as his sense of the occasion demanded” (Pearce 1). His poetry provided an outlet for him. He pretended to be all of society in his poems. He could pretend to be anyone behind his literature. In most of his poems, he takes on the role of outcast or a minor.
In the poem, “A March in the Ranks Hard- Preset, and the Road Unknown” he gives the reader a sense of pity for the speaker, “A March in the ranks hard-preset, and the road unknown;/A route through a heavy woof, with muffled steps in the darkness;/Our army foiled with loss severe, and the sullen remnant retreating;” (Drum-Taps 1865 277). Whitman uses the metaphor of a military to convey an idea of depression. The working class, whom are mistreated, struggle to find their way through life. Although Whitman was financially well off, he adopts the uses dialect of the time and social class.
Whitman unbelievable ability to hide himself behind his work creates way for his literature to infect the hearts of an entire population. He wore many masks in his poems but always revealed his true patriotism. In Whitman time social reforms were everyone’s focus. Whether it was the whites in the north opposing or the blacks in the south promoting the reforms, the entire nation was battling. A strong force that kept people sane was literature. “The Americans of all nations at any time upon the earth have probably the least poetical nature. The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem.
In the history of the earth hitherto the largest and most stirring appear tame and orderly to ampler largeness and stir” (Whitman Preface to Leaves of Grass 3). “Of all nations the United States with veins full of poetical stuff most need poets and will doubtless have the greatest and use them the greatest” (Whitman Preface to Leaves of Grass 5). Whitman describes the dedication of the American poets almost as serving their country. It is literature that keeps countries moving through hard times. One of Whitman most iconic poems was written for the funeral for a man who made revolutionary changes in America.
For Lincoln death, Whitman wrote a solemn but patriotic poem titled “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’s. ” Poetry reflecting death is usually dark and ominous, but he gives the poem an optimistic and beautiful essence: When lilacs last in the Dooryard bloom’s And the great star early drop’s in the western sky in the night, I mourned, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring. Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring, Lilacs blooming perennial and drooping star in the west, And the thought of him I love. (Whitman Leaves of Grass 525). Whitman expresses his love for Lincoln and all that he did.
The president made some of the most influential changes to America. The lilacs are symbolic to his achievements and like a perennial, they will always come back. The time of day is significant because the night shows the changing of dark and that a new day is coming full of light and different experiences. Whitman dedication to his country drove him to write poetry about one of the county’s most momentous leaders. While traveling Whitman complex, undefined, and breath-taking literature, one minds that his poetry compliments his political beliefs, ever changing character, and his dedication to America.
As a strong democrat, Whitman believed in the institution of freedom to all citizens in America. He also used his poetry in all different voices to communicate the feelings of people who normally do not have a say. Lastly, Whitman love for his country influenced his work and left him distraught with the death of President Lincoln. People live and die but like Lincoln, Whitman left a legacy for every age, color, class and gender to hold with them as they travel throughout their life.