Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, while considered extraordinary poets of their time, had contrasting personalities and took inspiration from different ideas. Whitman was popular and forthright; while Dickinson was introverted and bashful. Due to having distinctive personalities, they wrote about different ideas.
Dickinson’s poem, “324,” is about the journey of someone understanding God in their own personal way, rather than worshipping in a church. Whitman’s poem, “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer,” is about someone who grows bored of an astronomy class, so he decides to go outside and figure out how everything works himself. Although these poets had their individual tones and rhyme schemes, they had a similar idea toward imagery and Romanticism.
The tone and rhyme scheme is what makes the writing style of Emily Dickinson’s “324” unique. She keeps a repetitive pattern throughout this poem, which was very captivating. Dickinson writes, ““Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice – / I just wear my wings – / And instead of tolling with the Bell, the Church – / Our little Sexton – sings.” Her use of dashes in this poem indicate that the tone is lighter and more laid back. She is explaining how everyone can worship God in a different way, going to church isn’t needed. She continues to explain this in her poem by writing, “Some keep the Sabbath going to church – / I keep it, staying at home – / With a Bobolink for a Chorister – / And an Orchard, for a Dome.” The overall tone of this poem is very relaxed and people can relate to it. On the other hand, Whitman’s writing style is unique due to a different type of tone and rhyme scheme. In his poem, “When I heard the Learn’d Astronomer,” there was hardly any rhyme at all. Whitman writes, “Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself, / In the mystical most night-air, and from time to time, / Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars,” as to sound as he was talking to someone; making the poem more conversational. The tone of this passage is more lethargic and heavy than Dickinson’s.
Whitman writes, “When I sitting heard the / astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room / How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,” he is talking about the student becoming bored; which is making the readers disinterested. However, many students can relate to this poem because a lot of today’s school is lecturing; there aren’t a lot of hands-on activities. Whitman and Dickinson are as similar as they are different, however. Emily Dickinson was able to incorporate imagery and Romanticism in her poem, as well as pulling inspiration from nature. She painted a picture of her backyard and explained how she is able to worship there, instead of a church. Whitman was also able to fuse in some Romanticism and imagery in his poem. The student in his poem was able to escape his astrology course by observing it himself; by observing the natural world.
In conclusion, you may have two poets with contrasting personalities and varying poetic ideas, but both Dickinson and Whitman were able to persuade people by using the same poetic devices, making them some of the most incredible poets of their time.
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