By M. Jimmie Killingsworth

ISBN-10: 0511275293

ISBN-13: 9780511275296

ISBN-10: 051161098X

ISBN-13: 9780511610981

ISBN-10: 0521670942

ISBN-13: 9780521670944

ISBN-10: 0521854563

ISBN-13: 9780521854566

Walt Whitman is among the so much leading edge and influential American poets of the 19th century. concentrating on his masterpiece Leaves of Grass, this booklet presents a starting place for the research of Whitman as an experimental poet, an intensive democrat, and a old character within the period of the yank Civil struggle, the expansion of the nice towns, and the westward enlargement of the us. constantly a debatable and critical determine, Whitman maintains to draw the admiration of poets, artists, critics, political activists, and readers all over the world. these learning his paintings for the 1st time will locate this a useful publication. along shut readings of the main texts, chapters on Whitman's biography, the background and tradition of his time, and the severe reception of his paintings offer a finished knowing of Whitman and of the way he has turn into any such critical determine within the American literary canon.

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Extra info for The Cambridge Introduction to Walt Whitman (Cambridge Introductions to Literature)

Example text

Why should he want to see God, he wonders, when God appears in “faces of men and women I see” (245)? Having dispatched theology, Section 49 anticipates the objection that, unlike God, the 40 Poetry before the Civil War self is limited by the boundaries of life and death. “And as to you Death, and you bitter hug of mortality, it is idle to try to alarm me” (245). ” The stink of the corpse yields “the white roses sweet-scented and growing” (245). In Sections 50 and 51, Whitman completes the transcendental sweep of the poem, dramatizing the poet at the edge of understanding, the limits of language.

Divine am I inside and out,” he says, building steam toward a litany of admiration for the body’s beauty: “If I worship one thing more than another it shall be the spread of my own body, or any part of it” (211). His egalitarianism extends to the despised or neglected parts of the human body as much to every constituent of the body politic. He portrays the body as both a metaphorical landscape (“shaded ledges”) and the means for cultivating the land (the phallus appearing as a “masculine colter,” that is, the blade of a plough) (211–12).

He tells a family story, how his mother in her youth was visited by a Native American woman whose “wonderful beauty and purity” made the white girl long for another visit, which never happened (547). The swimmer, the general, and the mother in her youth variously represent the experience of personal loss, with the poet giving vent to the elegiac strain that he would powerfully realize in poems published in the 1860s. In “The Sleepers,” the poet is intent on resolving the sense of loss, on rising with the sun at the end of the poem healed and restored by the descent into 44 Poetry before the Civil War darkness and exposure to the fearful side of his fantasies.

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The Cambridge Introduction to Walt Whitman (Cambridge Introductions to Literature) by M. Jimmie Killingsworth


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