Walt Whitman Poetry Analysis

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Walt Whitman had career that spanned many decades and proved to be one of the greatest in American history. However due to the fact that his writing career was so long, it can be said that his writing could have changed over time due to occurrences or events that he experienced which could have possibly changed his perspective on the content of his writing. According to Randall Fuller the civil war that took place in America “changed Walt Whitman’s poetry.” (Fuller, 2011). Through the comparative analysis of two selected extracts from Song of Myself and two poems from Drum-Taps, this essay will test Fuller’s claim, in particular how Whitman’s optimism on life and America changed due to the civil war as well as how his perspective on death…show more content…
In Song of Myself Whitman presents a very positive view of death, which can be seen in section six of the poem where he writes “They are alive and well somewhere; The smallest sprout shows there is really no death; And if ever there was, it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it, And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.” (Whitman, 1855) as well as “All goes onward and outward—nothing collapses; And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.” (Whitman, 1855). These lines convey that Whitman does not seem to have any fear of death and even welcomes it; he states that there really is no death, life always goes on and there is always rebirth and continuity. However after witnessing and experiencing the civil war Whitman’s perspective of death seemed to be changed from positivity to despair and sorrow. This can be seen in the poem Come up from the fields Father. This poem portrays a more sombre view on death than in Song of Myself as it speaks about a young man who had been killed in the war and the news is then delivered to his family via a letter. His mother is particularly upset by his death and ultimately wishes to join her son in death, which can be seen in the lines “O a strange hand writes for our dear son, O stricken mother's soul!” and “O that she might withdraw unnoticed, silent from life escape and withdraw, To…show more content…
Whitman had previously viewed death in a positive light because he had never seen it from the perspective of a war. As Fuller states “No longer can he assume that the reality of his situation will coincide with his wishes. Only after studying the "gaunt and grim" face of a stranger does the speaker recognize the common humanity shared by dead and living alike.” (Fuller, 2011). Whitman could no longer view death in the way that he had, he had seen for himself the senseless deaths of thousands of people and could no longer believe that death was not to be feared or mourned, it was in fact something that is very sad and cruel, especially in the context of the war. This forced Whitman to change his writing on the matter of death and

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