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Comparative Essay: Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson.

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Bret Corrigan Comparative Essay: Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson are two illustrious and significant 19th century poets. The analysis of two poems, "Of Him I Love Day and Night", by Whitman and "A Death-Blow is a Life-Blow to Some", by Dickinson, portray that despite Whitman's free verse and Dickinson's rhyme and meter the poems still convey similar messages concerning the eternal cycle that exists between death, body, and soul. The writing style of these two poets could not be more different. The differences originate from their unique personalities and lifestyles. Dickinson lived most of her life in seclusion, shy and timid, reluctant to publish her work. Whitman was a traveler, friendly and gregarious, who expected his work to have a lasting impression on its readers. Dickinson's short poetic lines, condensed through intense metaphors and the use of ellipsis (the emission of words understood to be there), contrast sharply with Whitman's long lines, little rhyme, and irregular rhythm. ...read more.


His unconventional style was revolutionary to the extent that it was the first effort to break away from the typical rhyme and meter of poetry. Meanwhile, "A Death-Blow is a Life-Blow to Some" is a concise, rhyming, insightful poem representing Dickinson's style of poetry. This particular poem is four lines long and flows rhythmically. The rhyme and meter in Dickinson's poems is portrayed clearly in the first two lines, "A death-blow is a life-blow to some Who, till they died, did not alive become." Dickinson wrote poetry for herself rather than others and tended to regard poems as experiences, not as statements like Whitman. This affects the style of poetry of Whitman and Dickinson to a degree. Whitman in writing poetry was writing for all of America as a spokesman of the people, where as Dickinson didn't want her work judged by others and wished to keep her poetry to herself. These two poems have very few similarities in terms of style and structure typical of most of Whitman and Dickinson's poetry. ...read more.


To Whitman and Dickinson death is not a gloomy demise but a pleasant and satisfying experience. Whitman expresses this feeling towards the end of his poem when he states that "if the corpse of any one I love, or if my own corpse, be duly render'd to powder, and pour'd in the sea, I shall be satisfied." Whitman and Dickinson's poetry express many similar ideas and beliefs as reflected in "Of Him I Love Day and Night" and "A Death-Blow is a Life-Blow to Some." The unique personalities and lifestyles of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson contribute to very different styles of poetry. Dickinson wrote very meticulously and her stanzas are controlled by rhyme and meter, where as Whitman was elaborative and developed a style of poetry called free verse. However, despite differences in style and structure the poems of Whitman and Dickinson reflect the similar message of the eternal cycle and the connection between death, body, and soul, which is illustrated beautifully by "Of Him I Love Day and Night" and "A Death-Blow is a Life-Blow to Some." ...read more.

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