Jan 25, 2018 in Literature

Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson

Both Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson portrayed man’s soul in most of their works. In Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, Whitman touched the immortality of man’s soul which is repetitively illustrated by the voice which conversed with the travellers of the present time. In the same way, Dickinson’s The Soul Selects Her Own Society displays one attitude of human’s soul  which is too focused on a single object and too passive towards the others. Also, in some of the works of both authors, the character that speaks is invisible to the actors or the subjects of the poem. Thus, the behaviour of the other characters remains undisturbed and unaffected by the mood of the speaker. An example can be cited in Whitman’s Crossing Brooklyn Ferry wherein the speaker talks with the travellers making known to them that he, though in an earlier time, also went through the same experiences and places they have been through. Speaking about Dickinson’s works, we can cite the poem In the Garden wherein the bird was unaware of the presence of the speaker. Since the speaker remained unseen to the bird, it is not disturbed and it continued its usual motions.

The difference in the works of Whitman and Dickinson lies in the flow of the poems. Whitman’s Crossing Brooklyn Ferry gives life to a soul long gone and carries it to the present time. The question posed by the speaker “What is it then between us? What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us?” gives hint to the readers that the soul that speaks is somehow still living in the present age. On the contrary, we find in one of Dickinson’s poems the line “Because I could not stop for Death, he kindly stopped for me…” which clearly illustrates that the life has ended.

Although there are differences between the works of the two authors, it is safe to conclude that both of them use life and death as common themes.


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