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Comparison of Dickenson and Whitman poems

About differencies of two american contemprorary poems



In my essay I want to analyze two poems of contemporary American poets:  I?m nobody, who are you? by Emily Dickenson and Song of Myself  by Walt Whitman.

I ?m nobody! Who are you?                                              
Are you nobody, too?
Then there ?s a pair of us?don?t tell!
They ?d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!        
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their
parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.


I?ve chosen these poems because I like them most and they are so different.

Whitman?s poem  Song of Myself  is  one of the major poems in American poetry and is divided into 52 separate sections.


2. Use of poetic line and Poetic rhythm


In Dickinson?s poem what catches my fancy is the whimsical punctuation and the only too evident sarcasm.
The speaker exclaims that she is "Nobody," and asks, "Who are you? / Are you Nobody, too?" If so, she says, then they are a pair of nobodies, and she admonishes her addressee not to tell, for "they'd banish us, you know!" She says that it would be "dreary" to be "Somebody" it would be "public" and require that, "like a Frog," one tell one's name "the livelong June / To an admiring Bog!"

The two stanzas of "I'm Nobody!" are highly typical for Dickinson, constituted of loose iambic trimeter occasionally including a fourth stress ("To tell your name--the livelong June--"). They follow an ABCB rhyme scheme (though in the first stanza, "you" and "too" rhyme, and "know" is only a half-rhyme, so the scheme could appear to be AABC), and she frequently uses rhythmic dashes to interrupt the flow.
This poem implies that to be a Nobody is a luxury incomprehensible to the dreary Somebodies, for they are too busy keeping their names in circulation, croaking like frogs in a swamp in the summertime.




In Song of Myself, Whitman pays tribute to himself and his readers (?I celebrate myself and sing myself??) as he depicts the physical, emotional, and spiritual world around him. The poet delights in his environment, fully appreciating the sights, sounds, and smells that surround him.

Thus poem  is a sprawling combination of biography, sermon, and poetic meditation. It is composed more of vignettes than lists: Whitman uses small, precisely drawn scenes to do his work here.

3.Use of images and Diction (Symbolic)


The poem of Emily Dickenson I?m Nobody! Who are you? is her most famous and most playful defense of the kind of spiritual privacy she favored, implying that to be a Nobody is a luxury incomprehensible to the dreary Somebodies for they are too busy keeping their names in circulation, croaking like frogs in a swamp in the summertime. This poem is an outstanding early example of Dickinson's often jaunty approach to meter (she uses her trademark dashes quite forcefully to interrupt lines and interfere with the flow of her poem, as in "How dreary-- to be--Somebody!"). Further, the poem vividly illustrates her surprising way with language. The juxtaposition in the line "How public--like a Frog--" shocks the first-time reader, combining elements not typically considered together, and, thus, more powerfully conveying its meaning (frogs are "public" like public figures--or Somebodies--because they are constantly "telling their name"-- croaking--to the swamp, reminding all the other frogs of their identities).


In Whitman?s poem I want to pay attention to three key episodes. The first of these is found in the sixth section of the poem. A child asks the narrator "What is the grass?" and the narrator is forced to explore his own use of symbolism and his inability to break things down to essential principles. The bunches of grass in the child's hands become a symbol of the regeneration in nature.

 The second episode is more optimistic. The famous "twenty-ninth bather" can be found in the eleventh section of the poem. In this section a woman watches twenty-eight young men bathing in the ocean. She fantasizes about joining them unseen, and describes their semi-nude bodies in some detail. The lavish eroticism of this section reinforces this idea: sexual contact allows two people to become one yet not one--it offers a moment of transcendence. As the female spectator introduced in the beginning of the section fades away, and Whitman's voice takes over, the eroticism becomes homoeroticism. Again this is not so much the expression of a sexual preference as it is the longing for communion with every living being and a connection that makes use of both the body and the soul (although Whitman is certainly using the homoerotic sincerely, and in other ways too, particularly for shock value).

Having worked through some of the conditions of perception and creation, Whitman arrives, in the third key episode, at a moment where speech becomes necessary. In the twenty-fifth section he notes that "Speech is the twin of my vision, it is unequal to measure itself, / It provokes me forever, it says sarcastically, / Walt you contain enough, why don't you let it out then?" Having already established that he can have a sympathetic experience when he encounters others ("I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person"), he must find a way to re-transmit that experience without falsifying or diminishing it. Resisting easy answers, he later vows he "will never translate [him]self at all." Instead he takes a philosophically more rigorous stance: "What is known I strip away." Again Whitman's position is similar to that of Emerson, who says of himself, "I am the unsettler." Whitman, however, is a poet, and he must reassemble after unsettling: he must "let it out then." Having catalogued a continent and encompassed its multitudes, he finally decides: "I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable, / I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world." "Song of Myself" thus ends with a sound--a yawp--that could be described as either pre- or post-linguistic. Lacking any of the normal communicative properties of language, Whitman's yawp is the release of the "kosmos" within him, a sound at the borderline between saying everything and saying nothing. More than anything, the yawp is an invitation to the next Walt Whitman, to read into the yawp, to have a sympathetic experience, to absorb it as part of a new multitude.


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