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Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman: A Critical Review

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Theory of Poetry in Preface to Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman was one of the most influential and most famous poets of American Literature. He was born in 1819 in Long Island. Preface to Leaves of Grass is his most important work: a volume of twelve poems and preface. In its second edition it was extended to thirty-three poems. He died in 1892.

Walt Whitman was one of the American poets who contributed a great deal to American poetry. He tried to make and combine different kinds of forms of poetry and how it all should be understood. In Leaves of Grass combining lyrical and epic form from of poetry made a great success. Trying to find “American Identity”, was a great representation in this work. He tried to explain that identity of one people is not contained in individuals, but it is found in one nation. Whitman considered this identity theory as being in society as a whole; “it cannot be described so easily, but only felt”. his journey through Preface to Leaves of Grass is actually both spiritual and physical. Spiritual journey is represented through the very own soul and the nature of human beings, and as for physical it is represented as his journey across America looking for himself. Through Whitman’s poetry it can be seen that he was a great believer in “human nature”, and nature in general, even though Preface to Leaves of Grass might be seen as an egoistical work, at first, but in deeper meaning it is about desire for life: for knowing where one individual belongs in the society of the time. Leaves of Grass is giving an important statement that American people have a “poetic nature”, and they are trying to blend the historical facts, present life, and the future living into one, and that makes them the greatest poets. For Whitman, The United States is a great place to have a success in writing poetry because of the culture, gender and different types of racial backgrounds of people which interact with each other daily. Being concerned with what a poet should be and mean to everyone is actually explained in his Preface. He gives a strong statement, more of a fact, that every poet should be a great influence on other people with the quality of ones writing. Whitman implies in his Preface to Leaves of Grass that there is no better teacher of life and better philosopher of life than a poet. Poetry should be connecting people and not giving differences between them. It should be connected with readers soul and make him learn all the time. Turning small things that one writer sees, into something big and important is what is crucial for making poetry. Being a great lover of nature, Whitman makes his readers to love the life, and love there own identity and be who they are: to have a great patience and not go harsh on things. He makes a distinction from other poets that “we should believe in ourselves with our soul and body both, and be one great poem: that only we can write.”.

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Walt Whitman had a huge role in making American Literature: poetry to be precise, and always will be the most influential one in American Literature. In Preface to Leaves of Grass, Whitman describes values that make one individual a great poet, he gives a great comment how poetry should be developed and what it should mean to people who read it. Whitman was very sensitive poet of great value for poetry and all his poems have a strong statements and very powerful messages that every reader as well as poet should be aware of.

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