Whitman's Theory Of Poetry

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Whitman’s optimism can be best understood after one learns about his theory of poetry. Whitman had a very lofty concept of a poet whose business is to represent reality. A great poet according to Whitman exhibits the pinnacles that no man can tell what they are for or what is beyond. A poet reveals the hidden possibility. A poet also brings to the surface the riches playing somewhere in the racial memory, in the collective unconscious. The poet is seer the eye of the universe. He is capable to see the core of the universe and potential to realize the presence of the eternal. Such a poet is bound to be an optimist. Above all, the poet is a person who guides those who are in the clutches of the grief. Introduction Whitman was a conscious artist,…show more content…
Shakespeare did not theories nor did Milton. It was William Wordsworth in the romantic age of the nineteenth century who came with his, theory of poetry in his Preface to Lyrical Ballads. After Wordsworth, Matthew Arnold also was very vocal on this issue and called poetry “the criticism of life”. The man who was as good a critic as a poet was T.S Eliot who also came out with his own theory of poetry. No Indian English poet including Nissim Ezekiel, Shiv K Kumar and Jayant Mahapatra has given a theory of poetry. They have written wonderful poetry but they never considered it their concern to point what is poetry and what a poet is expected to do. But it does not mean that a poet is not guided or governed by some principles through which he proceeds. It is said that a poet may so be a pure artist without knowing why he is writing poetry but there is very little truth in such an observation. Even a great artist like John Keats wrote poetry with some design in his mind. He wrote poetry with the realization that poetry which shies away from the vital concerns of life would be only a nine-day wonder, Even Eliot has observed that Keats had a philosophic mind and that he was occupied only with the highest use of poetry. For Keats who has been considered an escapist, poetry was bound up with human life. The first illustrious poet who enunciated his theory of poetry was William…show more content…
By doing this, he should try to arouse the readers from slumber and sloth to spiritual consciousness. The new poet does not want his readers to follow him but to go ahead of him. He should not lead a safe and timid life but live dangerously and enthusiastically. This is how the poet sings about himself in Song of Myself : Long enough have you dreamed Contemptible dreams Now I wash the gum from your eyes You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.5 Whitman, giving his theory of poetry, laid emphasis on the poet’s faithfulness to reality and Whitman saw that reality consisted of science and democracy. The mediocre poet will mirror the surface of reality while the profound poet will discover the interior or spiritual life. Whitman asserted over and over again the transcendent importance of what he called the religious element in poetry. Whitman was of the opinion that the true poet draws his material from nature unites the past, the present and the future in a harmonious sequence. A good poet, Whitman said, must be commensurate with his nation and must incarnate it historically, geographically and also biologically. He is the genius of America. He must be endowed with organic health and a perfect sense of the unity

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