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Corrigan, John Michael. Physical Description viii, p. Language English View all editions Prev Next edition 3 of 3. Author Corrigan, John Michael. Edition 1st ed.

American metempsychosis Emerson, Whitman, and the new poetry

Subjects Emerson, Ralph Waldo, -- Criticism and interpretation. Whitman, Walt, -- Criticism and interpretation. American literature -- 19th century -- History and criticism. Self-consciousness Awareness in literature. National characteristics, American, in literature. He ignored much poverty and struggle. Yet his early journalism indicates an aversion to acquisition of wealth and a perception of working-class oppression.

He believed in the Quaker inner light and was attracted to European sentimentalism, being drawn to Scott, Sand, Coleridge, Carlyle, Channing and other Transcendentalists, especially Emerson, and later the German metaphysicians, especially Hegel. His "naturalistic credo," though retaining his anticlericalism, gave way to "an intuitionalist theism. He followed the ideas of flux and evolution but was "too good a romantic" for the difficult discipline of science.

He moved from an early insistence on absolute clarity of expression to a deliberate obscurantism as he became increasingly mystical and obsessed with death and immortality, his idea of Cod becoming "more personal, more Biblical," with a "mental flaccidity" in later verse like "Passage. Labor problems would have disrupted the prevailing optimism of Leaves.

In his later years he tended toward the spirit if not the theory of socialism. More fully than his fellow-writers, Whitman in Leaves reaches toward "an equalized and unified society" and a natural approach to life untinged by the supernatural. With its emphasis on action, Leaves can remain valid under socialism, speaking for the future as well as its own time. Whitman's sympathies, imagination, creative sensibility "were quite as proletarian as they were bourgeois.

No other American poet has so risen to this conception of a free and wholesome communality. As he became increasingly internationalistic, he made Leaves unparalleled in its anticipation of "a democratic and fraternal humanism. Whitman himself fulfills his own requirements for literature. Walt Whitman and the Springs of Courage. Santa Fe: Writers' Editions, pp.

No index.

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To Emerson's doctrine that the individual is unlimited, Whitman added the idea that all individuals are equal. He was right to object to New England's hostility to him as a substitute for honest criticism. His poetry offers affirmation. Gilchrist": Along with Quaker independence, Whitman's work reveals mystical leaning. Gilchrist perceived what Leaves lacked and tried to bring Whitman to "a wiser description of the bonds between man and woman. Unlike Matthew Arnold, Whitman sought a culture that emphasized human relations without separating body from spirit. He portrays the reality and mystery of sex, using parenthood merely "to appease Mrs.

Grundy," realizing that "the problems of sexuality cannot be separated from those of love. Their love for each other gave Whitman support. Whitman found good company among the uneducated because of their sense of values and life, their recognition of him for himself alone. He could not transform the invisible into human terms. He allowed his ego to dominate him. One should read his prose first and then approach Leaves aware of the anxiety in his heart so that the poems will seem not "the utterances of an unchained optimism" but his "suggestions for a far-flung campaign against our chaos and futility.

He provides a guide for us into a new sense of life. The Journals of Bronson Alcott. Extracts reprinted: Hindus. Tyndall, which Shepard notes was given a "grotesquely false rendering" in Sanborn's edition of Thoreau letters Alcott describes Whitman, "an extraordinary person, full of brute power, certainly of genius and audacity, and likely to make his mark on Young America.

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Other visits and meetings with Whitman are described; some critical comments on his work "Personalism," "Exposition". Walt Whitman's Pose. Revision of His ideals of democracy and universal brotherhood are simplistic and borrowed. Shaw translation, which Whitman read. The question of the Emerson debt may be resolved by the suggestion that Whitman was familiar with Emerson's ideas before writing Leaves but only read him extensively after Emerson's letter.

Whitman's paradox is that "while posing as an original and natural musician-poet of man he produced some original poems and some finely true natural lines and some beautiful word-music. His life is traced, noting his New Orleans romance whose vast influence is evident in the "fervid simplicity" of "Rolling Ocean. Leaves is founded on the principles of equality, pity, religion, and love. Whitman created death in his own image, "a kindly and beautiful elderly brother.

He was one of America's "most healthyminded men," seeing life clearly because he saw it whole.


His "perfect mental vision" was deceived only in some of his poems favoring the war, although he generally abhorred it. He disregarded private emotions in favor of those of man as a member of society. His invention of free verse was inevitable because the other forms were "locked up with the purely personal experiences.

The high plane of memorable expression, though rarely reached in his long poems, "was as memorable as that of any poet who ever lived. Whatever he expresses in his poems, "we always sense their sincerity and realness," as in the simple ponderings of extracts which follow. All of a Piece: New Essays.

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We go to him not for "sententiae" but "for what is elemental and big. No one could have written Leaves but "the large, reflective carpenter. Edited by Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, pp. Whether he had a mystic experience or not, he discovered a way of justifying to the world his nature, which he realized was different as described from He was indebted to Goethe, Carlyle, Emerson.

He perhaps never "understood how excellent he was merely as a poet," being concerned with being a prophet. The power of Leaves is described, with the development of his writing and reputation. Criticism now ranks him higher as a poet, emphasizing him less "as man and moralist" than earlier writers. His is "certainly the most original work yet done by any American poet," perhaps "the most passionate and best.

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Bibliography of significant primary and secondary sources. In History of the State of New York. Edited by Alexander C. New York: Columbia University Press, pp. Whitman's career is "New York's greatest contribution to American literature.

American Metempsychosis: Emerson, Whitman, and the New Poetry

His actual experiences led to his enduring convictions concerning life. His passionate love of life made him break with restrictions of form. He had few original ideas, drawing much from Carlyle and Emerson. His mysticism, monism, glorification of a spiritually based democracy are described. When inspired, he produced moving and sublime poetry on these themes. As a romantic, he never failed to capture America's spirit, picturing the America he wished for, yet with a realistic recognition of suffering.

His deism and idealism show the influence of Emerson, Carlyle, Hegel, Schelling. Idealism for Whitman is the key to understanding man, nature, and God. Whitman, never a systematic thinker, is intuitive and enthusiastic, an "ensemblist. His concept, identical to Emerson's, reflects his times. His idea of social democracy is militant. He celebrates sex as part of the identification of the soul with all processes of nature but is not obsessed with it, being concerned with all human activities.

He justifies evil by reference to universal harmony and acceptance of reality. He regarded himself as a nature-poet and the out-of-doors as the appropriate background of man's life, though most of his poems are too didactic to admit extensive nature-study. His transcendentalism places him with Emerson and Carlyle, but in seriousness and concreteness he is closer to Goethe and Wordsworth. His "democratic passion" links him with Shelley. His evolutionism is more Hegelian than Darwinian. Less naturalistic than preceding romantics, he represents the end of a phase in English poetry.

Samuel W. Bandler's collection, with annotations. Some "bear significantly upon Emerson and the Orient as sources of Whitman's thought, and afford revealing glimpses of uncompleted poems in the earliest stages of germination. The American Ideal.