Whitman was a follower of Emerson trascendentalism. He believed in the melting pot idea. He ‘s the first who talks about American subjects. In 1855 he wrote “ Leaves of grass “ idea of individualism and togetherness at the same time. He talks about common grass and so common people.
He was born in New York , of a working class family. He travelled from New York to New Orleans and this experience brought him in touch with the vastness of his country and also during this period he read widely ( Dante , Shakespeare , the Bible excetera..) . In 1855 he wrote “leaves of grass “ , about his development as a poet and his experience of the American Land. The edition of 1860 , aroused the indignation of puritanical readers and gained Whitman a reputation for homosexuality. The fourth edition of “ Leaves of grass “ , contained poems on the Civil war and on the death of President Lincoln . He was especially appreciated by the Aesthetic Movement. In America he influenced later poets such as Ezra Pound ( at the first time he thought that Nazism was a good thing ) , the Beat Generation ( Artistic and literary movement in America ). He is the father of the American poetry .
A life - A long poem
All of Whitman’s poetry was incorporated in “ Leaves of grass “. The first edition ( July 4th , Independence Day ) , showed a picture of a working man , a photograph of Whitman himself dressed up as a “democratic bard “ . This poem can be regarded as a life-long poem because he continued to revise and expand it throughout his life. Whitman never lost a transcendental sense of the unity of all things. He rejected the traditional form oh 19th century poetry because it imposed rigidity and completeness upon the reality.
The prophet of democracy and individualism
He ‘s poetry is a poetry of the body, he talks about physical love and attraction between people .For him is very important the “ individuality “ that is expressed in the phrase “ I and you , “ whoever you are “. He divided his being into three : “MY SELF “ ( i , Whitman’s poetic personality ) , the “Real me “ ( the inner personality of Whitman ) and “MY SOUL “ ( the soul of America ) . His poetry is pervaded by optimism . He celebrated America in all its variety and to him his country represented the expression of the idea of democracy. He believed in the “ American dream “ . He was like a prophet who as to reveal the truth . He sees himself contained in every man and women.
New means of expressions
He rejected rhymes and regular lines , in favour of long lines where rhythm is determined by the emotion expressed. The impression is lack of unity . Is language mixes dialect and common speech with the jargon of science and philosophy . It avoid simils and metaphors because the poet’s aim is to celebrate .