It is incontestable that both walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson were giants in the history of American literature owing their extraordinary achievements in poesy composing plentifulness of verse forms, concentrating on a broad scope of subjects such as emergent America, its enlargement, its individuality and its Americanness, and most significantly, making the verse form in reviewing ways that have broken the convention of the iambic pentameter and exerted great influences in the undermentioned coevalss. Meantime, important differences besides exist between the two poets. In footings of their backgrounds, subjects focused and composing techniques and manners, the two Masterss presented their uniqueness severally.


Walt Whitman came from a propertyless household with eight siblings and the household could barely back up his entree to higher instruction. As a consequence, he had to get down his experient life at a really early age. At the age of 11, after his five-years formal schooling, he started to work to gain income for his household. In a word Whitman did non have much instruction and his survey was about on his ain. After his first occupation, Whitman worked as an office male child, a pressmans apprentice, headmaster, pressman, editor and journalist. Successively, he contact with different degrees and assorted things hence gained a thorough cognition of life and the state, which laid a solid footing for his creative activity of poesy.

Emily Dickenson, on the reverse, grew up in a instead outstanding household of Amherst and was good educated. Bing rooted in the puritanical Massachusetts of the 1800s, the Dickinson kids were raised in the Christian tradition, and they were expected to take up their male parents spiritual beliefs and values without statement. Later in life, Emily would come to dispute these conventional spiritual point of views of her male parent and the church, and the challenges she met with would subsequently lend to the strength of her poesy. Furthermore, unlike Whitman, she led a quite pure, to some grade, secluded life, retreating herself from society and plunging into the survey of the Bible, classical mythology, and Shakespeare, which enabled her to concentrate on her universe more aggressively and get a trade name new apprehension and vision for the simplest things in her day-to-day life.

Hence it is comprehendible why Whitman frequently demonstrated a national mentality in his poesy, demoing his concerns on the common people and his state and Emily Dickinson, would brood on relatively narrow facets, viz. , the interior life of the person.


Besides their different backgrounds, exposure to different influences and different personalities besides led to their singularity in poesy creative activity.

Possessing an optimistic mentality, Whitman frequently composed in a cheerful tone, singing for democracy and freedom and with great outlooks and enthusiasm for new things and a new era. Dickinson, shy, sensitive, sometimes rebellious, nevertheless, would show herself in a tragic tone, making a relatively pessimistic ambiance.

Capable to assorted influences such as The Enlightenment and its ideals of the rights and self-respect of the person and Transcendentalism and its dogmas of believing in populating close to nature, learning the self-respect of manual labor, recommending self-trust, valuing individualism and autonomy, Walt Whitman, poet of the common people and prophesier and vocalist of democracy, would normally demo a acute oculus on adult male and nature. He extols the ideals of equality and democracy and celebrates the self-respect, the autonomous spirit and the joy of the common adult male. Songs of Myself, a extremely representative verse form from Leaves of Grass, Whitmans chef-d’oeuvre, illustrates really good Whitmans ideas. Titled as vocal of myself though, it is more a vocal of all the human existences, of any vibrant being in the existence, non confined to the historic Walt Whitman merely. By exposing assorted people, adult male and adult female, whoever has a nice occupation such as being the president or non every bit being as cocotte, Whitman unfeignedly sang congratulations for the equality and democracy among human existences ; by fancifying the animate beings, for case, the wild gander taking his flock through the cold dark, Whitman showed his regard for animate beings and indicated the equality between human existences and animate beings, and his vocal of nature, to a big extent, the vocal of the whole existence.

Distinct from the importance of significant issues like nationalism in Whitmans verse forms, Dickinsons poems look more regional and single, chiefly brooding on issues of the single universe. Natural phenomena, alterations of seasons, heavenly organic structures, animate beings, birds and insects, flowers of assorted sorts are frequently the topics of her poesy ; decease, love, friendly relationship, nature and immortality are the perennial subjects. For illustration, in This Is My Letter to the World, she implicitly expressed her solitariness and letdown of non being recognised, hankering for person to cognize her, to the full understand her and recognize her. It is easy to happen that most of Dickinsons poesy is more a natural flow of personal feeling and experience far from society, many of which partially resulted from her recluse life and purdah and which can non be separated from the spiritual influences she received during childhood and adolescence. Calvinism with its philosophy of predestination and its pessimism pressured her and colored her work so that her basic tone was tragic. Coupled with her frequent witnessing of deceases of many friends, particularly the mourning of her coachs, Benjamin Newton and Charles Wadsworth, the inhibitory tenet made decease a chief subject of Dickinsons poesy, facing which Dickinson could still act with poise and on which she could surprisingly exercise profound pondering. For Dickinson, decease leads to immortality ; it is non to be feared but a natural portion of the eternal circle of nature. This is reflected in one of her verse forms, Because I could non halt for Death. In this verse form, she imagined the clip when she died: He kindly stopped for me, bespeaking that decease was non awful for her. We easy drove He knew no hastiness, demoing her peaceful and unagitated mentality towards decease. Actually, in the first stanza, The Carriage held but merely ourselves And immortality, has already told her attitude towards decease ; together with decease, there came immortality. The comparing between the transiency of adult males life and the infinity of God in the last stanza besides showed that she enjoyed the decease.

Merely judging from the lengths of Whitmans and Dickinsons verse forms, we can already state the difference of their manners. The most conspicuous differences between the two poets lie in their particular techniques.

The most typical features of Whitmans poesy are the usage of repeat, correspondence, rhetorical idiosyncrasy, the acceptance of the natural meters of address in poesy, and the employment of the phrases alternatively of the good as a unit of beat. Most notably, to comprehensively show himself, Whitman broke the conventional poetic signifier and extensively used free poetry in his verse form. Disobeying the iambic pentameter signifier, her tested to come close the natural meters of address in his poesy, carefully changing the length of his lines harmonizing to his intended accent while guaranting every facet of life was able to talk without restraint. In I Hear American vocalizing, there are the paralleling vocalizings of a battalion of people runing from the carpenter, the Mason, the boater, the cobbler, the wood-cutter, the Big Dipper male child, the female parent to the immature married woman ; in O Captain! My Captain! , there are the repeats of i??O Captain! My Captain! i?? , i??on the deck my Captain liesi?? and i??Fallen cold and deadi?? which strongly suggest Whitmani??s profound love for Lincoln and despairing sorrow for his decease.

Dickinson, nevertheless, was celebrated for her startling and original enunciation. Her verse forms, terse, simple and direct, pronounced with her manner of no rubric, capitalised words, elans to make meter, images and symbols, set up her as one of Americai??s great lyric poets. i??Her gemlike verse forms are short, fresh and original, marked by the energy of her images, the dare of her idea and beauty of her expression.i?? Simple and even unusual as some of her words are, they are challenging and of cardinal significances. In Because I could non halt for Death, she personified decease as a carriage-driver, compared the journey to decease as traveling by passenger car and compared i??childreni?? , i??the Fields of Gazing Graini?? and i??the Setting Suni?? to childhood, maturity and old age severally, therefore exposing her feelings towards decease in a vivid and expressive manner.


In decision, while Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson both commenced a new epoch in American literature, they varied from each other in diverse ways. Whitman was a portion of the passage between transcendental philosophy and pragmatism, integrating both positions in his plants and is frequently called the male parent of free poetry ; whereas, Emily Dickinson, ace at using images in her poesy, greatly influenced farther Imagists such as Ezra Pound and Amy Lowell, and became, with Stephen Crane, the precursor of the Imagist motion. In the development of American literature, they both made indispensable parts.