Walt Whitman lifetime
1819-1892

Walt Whitman
-“poet who spoke to all the world”
-7 siblings
-left school at age 11
-journalist in Brooklyn then NOLA
-editor of Brooklyn Freeman, part-time carpenter, building contractor
-1885: published Leaves of Grass and sent copies to people he hoped would write endorsements (Emerson got one)
-tended hospital wards in Civil War
-believed role of a poet was to become a “saving force”

Walt Whitman’s poetry
-extravagant with words and careless style
-based on cadence: long easy sweep of sound that echoes the Bible and the speeches of orators and preachers
-wanted to show the New America he saw growing around him
– structures reflect his democratic ideals by using lists as a way to bring together a wide variety of items without imposing a hierarchy on them
-perception rather than analysis

I Hear America Singing
– appears in Leaves of Grass and introduces the poet’s major theme of America’s cultural diversity
-celebrates work through the “varied carols” of men and women who take pride in their occupations
-uses catalogs: long lists of related things, people, or events
-showcases the jobs of men and women who keep our country going and retain American spirit

Emily Dickinson lifetime
1830-1886

Emily Dickinson
-born in Massachusetts
-fell in love with a married pastor from Philly, but she never married; she always dressed in white
-told fam to destroy poems after she died but instead they began to publish them
-was not recognized as a genius poet until 70 years after her death

Emily Dickinson’s style
-used precise language and unique poetic forms to reveal/conceal her private thoughts and feelings
-meticulous about evoking feelings rather than just talking about them
– stanzas are neat and controlled-rhyme and meter like that of a hymn book

Types of rhyme Dickinson known for
-slant rhyme
-eye rhyme
-true rhyme

Slant Rhyme
a kind of consonance (relation between words in which the final consonants in the stressed syllables agree but the vowels that precede them differ: add/read, up/step, peer/pare

Eye Rhyme
rhyme that appears correct from the spelling but is not so from the pronunciation

True Rhyme
vowel and succeeding consonants are the same but the proceeding consonant sounds are different

Much Madness is Divinest Sense
-many people find solace in solitude (Dickinson lived her life in solitude)
-people called her mad but she was living deliberately
-asserts that those who are judged “mad” are really the sane ones and those who are judging are actually mad
-poem serves as a warning that if you do not conform to society you will be ostracized

If you were coming in the Fall
-explores how the absence of a loved one can take a psychological toll on someone
– “I don’t care how long you will be gone, as long as you will return to me and we can be together forever.”
-Four of the stanzas begin with “if,” indicating uncertainty
-We assume that the speaker is a woman due to domestic metaphors, such as the housewife and fly as well as the balls of yarn
-The time of absence in regard to the speakers lover becomes larger as the poem progresses. As a result, the speaker’s doubt increases progressively from brushing it off to thinking that she might possibly never see her beloved again

Because I could not stop for Death
-Dickinson’s speaker is communicating from beyond the grave, describing her journey with Death, personified, from life to afterlife
-the speaker is too busy for Death, so Death—”kindly”—takes the time to do what she cannot, and stops for her.
-This “civility” that Death exhibits in taking time out for her leads her to give up on those things that had made her so busy to enjoy the ride
-we see reminders of the world that the speaker is passing from, with children playing and fields of grain
-she has stopped being an active agent, and is only now a part of the landscape
-after the realization of her new place in the world, her death also becomes suddenly very physical
-After this moment of seeing the coldness of her death, the carriage pauses at her new “House.” aka her grave
-she says that although it has been centuries since she has died, it feels no longer than a day, showing a glimpse of immortality

Apparently with no Surprise
A happy-go-lucky flower gets its head chopped off by the frost. The sun sees the whole thing from up above, but doesn’t give a flip. Somewhere above, God watches it all thinking what a swell job he’s done.