Walt Whitman’s Poetry: Allegory Examples In Poetry

April 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

Walt Whitman was a well-known journalist and poet. He was considered one of the most influential poets in American history. He directed his writing into a more traditional epic and aesthetic approach to show the true beauty behind what he was writing. In 1855, he published what is known as “Leaves of Grass” which is considered a very important piece in American literature and was considered very controversial during this time period. Tradition was discarded in favor of a voice that came to the reader throughout the poems, in first person and in the lines in which he wrote, exhibited an openness with a formal approach. His Leaves of Grass would catch the attention of a fellow poet known as Ralph Waldo Emerson. He even commented on his poems as “the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom”.

Throughout Walt Whitman’s poems in the Leaves of Grass, it is said to be inspired by the works of Shakespeare, Homer, and dante and even the Bible. Leaves of Grass were rewritten and reissued multiple times in the span of Whitman’s lifetime. At first, he had The original volume which was a small book of twelve poems, while the last version was a compilation of more than four hundred. The poems are loosely connected, representing Whitman’s celebration of his philosophy of life and humanity. The book of poems explores the reality of delight in sensual lust at a time when it showed displays of pleasure being considered immoral. His poems relied on religious symbolism and allegory, Leaves of Grass concentrated on deliberating the body and the material world into more of a transcendental feeling. The format of the poem shifts radically throughout the readings, and does not tend to follow standards needed to meet the recommendation for poetry during that time period and was considered highly controversial upon its release due to its explicit sexual content, the book was criticized by most poetry critics during Whitman’s lifetime. However, it has become one of the most enduring works of American poetry, still, widely read and studied today as one of Whitman’s defining works.

Whitman was very much influenced by the civil war throughout writing these poems. He writes two segments on the topic “Drum-Taps, and it begins with a call to arms, but instead of the pavement of war, it talks about the in-depth perception about the war, and the failing of democracy, and tragedy of war. Examples like “In Whitman’s most famous poem, “O Captain! My Captain!,” he compares the captain of a ship that has succeeded through a horrific journey, to Abraham Lincoln. These sections of poetry explore the themes throughout history, showing a larger emphasis on the journey of American society. Whitman examines the meaning of life and death and comes to see how death is connected to as the regeneration of life.

In his last poem “Songs of Parting,” he creates the theme as he says goodbye to the reader’s, he encourages his audience to live a well and better life to pursue what makes them happy the most. He even mentioned hopefully he would live long enough in the mind, even after the physical form is gone, and how he expresses his everlasting poetry to have someday a large effect on the world as well. He was a noted humanist who helped transform the transcendentalists and realists into the form of poetry for a better understanding. He was often called the father of the free verse.

Whitman expresses transcendentalism, he addresses it through Nature, and how it was the manifesto of American transcendental thought. He implied that the true reality is in the spirit of oneself, and it lies beyond to reach realism through the senses we carry within our selves, and the only way to see it is to find it our very own.

Whitman’s view of the soul is represented how the body is connected to the soul directly, he understood that matter is divine, just as well as the soul, and since the body of a human is very sacred, and is spiritual as the soul, when he expresses it through his poetry is very oblivious to understand what he is talking about. For instance in this section of the poem, “

This is thy hour O Soul,

thy free flight into the wordless,

Away from books,

away from art,

the day erased,

the lesson done,

Thee fully forth emerging,

silent, gazing, pondering

the themes thou lovest best.

Night, sleep, and the stars” (Leaves of grass).

He uplifts a spirit through the mentioning of the soul, of how the materialistic things in this world are not what matters, but the beauty of what’s behind is what you should look through. Not only the soul but through nature. He expresses nature, in the meaning of the universe. To Whitman the self-image is both physical and spiritual, the self is the man’s individual identity, which makes him unique and distinct from the rest of the population. And how the self, is the portion of one’s divine soul. However, Whitman’s purpose was to create and cultivate people through brotherhoods, and bringing together broken communities, and give the best he could to society, and to fix democracy.  


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