10 March 2010
The Folding and Unfolding of the Accordion:
A Dickinson-Whitman Comparison
To what extent can two authors be different and still manage to have accord?
This question needs to be asked in order to adjudicate and compare Emily Dickenson and Walt Whitman’s poetry. What it is certain is that their approach to writing poetry is definitely different. Dickinson’s use of unconventional punctuation, run-on lines, and short lines gives her a layering quintessence, which proves to be unique; whereas Whitman’s use of narrative, vocabulary, and grace gives him a jubilant style not achieved by many poets. Dickinson uses phrases such as ...view middle of the document...
Dickinson notices the changes that come from winter to spring, i.e. “The Frogs got Home last Week—“ (5), “Birds, mostly back—“ (7), “The Clover warm and thick—“ (8). At face value, the subject matter is one of personification of natural beings. But, if the reader considers what those things represent, it is probable that a deeper meaning exists. More specifically, Dickinson exhibits a sense of longing for bees, not because it is bees that make the spring begin, but because to her, bees are spring. One can go even further and consider that spring is a metonymy for life. It is then when the connection between bees and life through the season of spring is made. Bees are responsible for pollinating plants. Without this service, many of the colorful life that comes about during spring would simply be impossible. And so, the frogs may be at work, the birds may be back, and the clover may be thriving, but without the bee, the vivid colors of spring would fall prey to demise. Whitman, unlike Dickinson, expresses longing in majestic manner. “I am he that walks with the tender and growing night,/ I call to the earth and sea half-held by the night./ Press close bare-bosom'd night- press close magnetic nourishing night!” (21.13-23). Here Whitman appears that he is celebrating earth using direct subject matter. He apostrophizes earth to express his veneration over it. Furthermore, the speaker gets such joys from the earth that he almost cannot get enough of it. The way the speaker describes earth in this passage reflects that as soon as the speaker experiences these pleasures, she or he wants more and starts longing for it. In a way, the speaker is satisfied to such extent that the urge for more happens instantaneous, just as when a child finishes a candy bar and immediately starts missing the candy after the last bite. In both of these examples, Dickinson and Whitman use apostrophes as vessels to connect readers to not only the deeper meanings within the poems, but to do so in an enlightening, and aesthetical manner. And so, subject matter along with the poet’s persona, although different, can conclude in a similar essence.
The poet’s persona in poetry can define the poem’s essence. This persona allows the reader to enter the quixotic world of romantic poetry, which is not possible in the literal world. Dickenson often writes in such a way that the poetry seems to just exist. As if it could be written by anyone. Ironically, this quality is one that distinguishes her style. “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers—/ That perches in the soul—/ And sings the tune without the words—“ (1-3).
It is apparent that the poet’s persona is existent to a low degree. Dickinson does not claim responsibility for what this portion of the poem is conveying. It is a bit of exposition in the poem that can exist in anyone who reads it, which is a great accomplishment in poetry. The poem makes the reader compare hope to a bird without boundaries. It personifies hope, making it more...