Nonconformity In The Poetry Of Walt Whitman And Emily Dickinson

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The 19th century, a period characterized by strict conformity and societal standards, provided limited room for individuality or creative spirit. Those living in this time were expected to follow the path most traveled, and suppress their true selves so as to not differ from the rest. If one appeared different, they became an immediate outsider with accusations of madness set forth. However, certain individuals refused to accommodate the insular expectations of their society. Despite constant ridicule, two poets by the names of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, stood their ground and created revolutionary literature. By contributing their own compelling language of nonconformity, Whitman and Dickinson perpetually altered the domain of poetry.…show more content…
Free verse, the name given to his modern style, characterizes itself mostly by insufficient rhyme and meter within the work. The dialect focused on cadence, or the natural rhythms of spoken language, and were often read in a song-like manner. Most of these poems also lack proper punctuation resulting in enjambment, or the running over of sentences. Those who read the work of Whitman considered him the master of literary devices, as he offered a plethora in each of his works. Cataloging, one of the most common devices in Whitman’s content, contains the creation of lists. Cataloging possesses the power to put forth emphasis and details in areas that Whitman deems important. The vast majority of his work “I Sing the Body Electric” contains large lists of the human body parts: “... Eyes, eye-fringes, iris of the eye, eyebrows, and the waking or sleeping of the lids, ... Mouth, tongue, lips, teeth, roof of the mouth, jaws… .“ By cataloging over fifty parts of the body consecutively, Whitman hopes the reader will realize the complexity of their body, and appreciate it further. Whitman also utilized other devices including anaphora (parallel structure at the beginning of lines), and consonance (the repetition of consonant sounds), to add even more color to his poetry.…show more content…
They broke out of the predetermined mold set for them by society, and created incredible works with their unique styles. However, although Dickinson provided many thought-provoking concepts, Whitman helped shape the future of poetry. With his groundbreaking development of the free verse style, he has opened society’s eyes to a world of creative
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