Comparing Walt Whitman And Emily Dickinson

1009 words - 4 pages

Comparing Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson


The lives of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson have many similarities and differences. Here, we will focus on the similarities in their lives in order to bring to attention a correlation between Whitman's poem I Saw in Louisiana a Live-oak Growing and Dickinson's poem # 1510. Both poets wrote during the time of Romanticism, even though Whitman was Dickinson's senior by some eleven years. This however did not influence the way the writing styles of many of their poems coincided.
Loneliness was an important characteristic of both poet's lives during the writing years. Whitman, whose sexuality has been questioned, was never one for social interaction. Much of his time was spent writing or editing newspapers such as the Long Island Star and the Brooklyn Daily Times (Whitman XV). Dickinson, whose life was similar to Whitman's in a social sense, lived in a different atmosphere. Emily lived in Amherst which was a far cry from the hustle an bustle of Whitman's life in cities such as New York, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. She never married, living alone in her home for the majority of her life (Dickinson 128). The loneliness, along with the inspiration from nature (a major characteristic of Romantic writing), are two things that can be seen in the two poems that we are about to take an in depth look at. In addition to these items we can also see a possible attempt by Whitman and Dickinson to keep their real life away from public view (even though they were not immediately published), instead making their lives seem joyous.
We will first look at Walt Whitman's poem I Saw in Louisiana a Live-oak Growing. In the second line, Whitman sets the tone of loneliness by describing the tree standing all alone. However, in the next line he continues by saying that the tree is able to grow joyous leaves despite the fact that it does not have a companion. Many people believe that this mimics Whitman's life. Living in a life of social separation much of the time, he still managed to succeed not only with his writing, but also in life itself. However, in line five Whitman goes on to say that he wonders how the tree could grow such joyous leaves while being alone. He himself says that he could not survive if put in the same situation. Whitman did however lead a joyous and happy life in many peoples opinion, even though he did not enjoy the social life many other had during his lifetime. His own opinion of himself not being lonely may be frayed in order to spare the image he proposes to the public in his writings. The next few lines are interesting because of the way they could possible spell out Whitman's life. In the poem, he breaks of a twig, wraps some moss around it, and takes it to he room and places it in plain view. This may...

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