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Whitman Vs. Dickinson Essay

1016 words - 5 pages

Whitman vs. Dickinson

Death; termination of vital existence; passing away of the physical state. Dying comes along with a pool of emotions that writers have many times tried to explain. Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman were two pioneer poets from the Romantic Era, that introduced new, freer styles of writing to modern poetry at the time. Both Whitman and Dickinson have similar ideas in their writing, but each has a unique touch of expression in their works. Both poets have portrayed death in their poetry as a relief, a salvation, or escape to a better place- another life. They have formulated death as a positive yet ambiguous state. In Dickinson's "Narrow Fellow in the Grass" ...view middle of the document...

For instance, he describes the soldiers as noisy in war, but when they die, there is silence. Silence resembles death, yet it's not a negative way of expressing it. As the poet encounters with more memories of suffering, he calls to death: "Come sweet death! be persuaded O beautiful death!/ In mercy come quickly" (lines 44-45). He believes death will alleviate the pains and that it is good. Another delicate way of describing death, and an excellent choice of words, is when he says he recalls "the experience (as) sweet and sad" (line 63) These young soldiers have so much life ahead of them and they are dying, this makes it 'sad'. Yet since they are suffering so much, it's 'sweet' that they die. In this particular poem, Whitman portrays an attitude of positive welcoming of death.
The positive outlook that Whitman portrays towards death in his poem the "Wound-Dresser", is similarly shown in Emily Dickinson's "Narrow Fellow in the Grass". She tells a simple story with impressive word choices that allow for deep interpretation and symbolism. Her poem narrates the story of a dead man laying on the ground that looks as if "the Grass divides as with a comb-" (line 5). "He (meaning the dead man) likes Boggy Acre/ A Floor too cool for Corn-" (lines 9-10). Notice as she uses the word 'likes' as if the dead man still lived or had feelings towards the place where he died. It seems as if she was contradicting her Puritan decent by in a way believing in an afterlife. The dead man chose a 'boggy acre'. Boggy is a rich, mineral-filled soil that is close to a body of water. Water represent purification, but it's also one of the four elements of life; earth, water, fire and air, therefore it also represents Life. Yet the 'floor is too cool for corn'. Corn grows in hot, dry places. This coolness (winter) is the representation of death. What Dickinson could be trying to say through these simple sentences, is...

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