Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Whitman's Peers

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow- "The Village Blacksmith
                                                 - "The Wreck of the Hesperus"
   In terms of form Wadsworth's poems both have a clear rhyme scheme.  In "The Village Blacksmith" the rhyme and form are not as formulaic as in the "The Wreck of the Hesperus" with its four line stanzas.  The subject matter differs somewhat from Whitman's themes.  For example in the first poem the speaker describes the daily life of the blacksmith, which includes hard work, long hours, and church attendance.  The lifestyle of the blacksmith does not align with Whitman's lifestyle of poetry, loafing, and eroticism in "Leaves of Grass."  Wordsworth's poems each feature a parent-child relationship and a death, which lends for an emotional connection on an individual level.  In the first poem the blacksmith sheds a tear watching his daughter sing and thinking of his deceased wife.  In a way it could be argued that this shows a similarity between the two poets because Whitman does refer to being in touch with one's emotions and one's femininity as well as masculinity, which can be seen in the juxtaposition of the blacksmith's muscles and brawn with his expression of love and grief.  In the second poem a father-daughter relationship is also introduced and a death occurs within the body of the poem.  It reads like a an old sailor's tale, which has a different tonal quality than Whitman's philosophical musings.

Anne C. Lynch- "An Imitation"
   In Lynch's poem nature is a major theme, which parallels with Whitman's poem, although the rhyme scheme and format is more specific in "An Imitation."  It seems that Whitman's peers generally kept closer to formal poetic structure than Whitman but that's not a surprise since he was ahead of his time in more ways than this.

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