American poet, journalist and essayist, best
known for LEAVES OF GRASS (1855), which was occasionally banned, and the poems
'I Sing the Body Electric' and 'Song of Myself.' Whitman incorporated natural
speech rhythms into poetry. He disregarded metre, but the overall effect has a
melodic character. Harold Bloom has stated in The Western Canon (1994) that
"no Western poet, in the past century and half, not even Browning, or
Leopardi or Baudelaire, overshadows Walt Whitman or Emily Dickinson."
"Swiftly arose and spread around me the
peace and joy and
----knowledge that pass all the art and argument of the earth;
And I know that the hand of God is the elderhand of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the eldest brother of my own,
And that all men ever born are also my brothers... and the
----women my sisters and lovers."
(from 'Song of Myself')
Walt Whitman was born in Long Island, New
York, as the son of a Quaker carpenter. Whitman's mother was descended from
Dutch farmers. In Whitman's childhood there were slaves employed upon the farm.
Whitman was early filled with a love of nature. He read classics in his youth
and was inspired from such writers as Goethe, Hegel, Carlyle and Emerson. Whitman left school
early to become a printer's apprentice. He also worked as a teacher and
journeyman printer in 1835. After that he held a great variety of jobs while
writing and editing for several periodicals, The Brooklyn Eagle from 1846 to
1848 and The Brooklyn Times from 1857 to 1858. In between he spent
three months on a New Orleans paper, working for his father, and earning his
living from undistinguished hack work.
In New York Whitman witnessed the rapid growth
of the city and wanted to write a new kind of poetry in tune with the mankind's
new faith, hopeful expectations and energy of his days. Another theme in 'Song
of Myself' is suffering and death - he identified with Jesus and his fate:
"In vain were nails driven through my hands. / I remember my crucifixion
and bloody coronation / I remember the mockers and the buffeting insults / The
sepulchre and the white linen have yielded me up / I am alive in New York and
San Francisco, / Again I tread the streets after two thouand years." (from
an early draft) The first edition of Leaves of Grass appeared in July, 1855 at
Whitman's own expense - he also had set the type for it himself - and the poem
was about the writer himself. In the same year also appeared Longfellow's The Song of
Hiawatha, another great American epic. The third edition of Leaves of Grass was
published during Whitman's wandering years in 1860. It was greeted with warm
appreciation, although first his work it did not gain popular success. Ralph
Waldo Emerson was among his early admirers and wrote in 1855: "I am very
happy in reading it, as great power makes us happy."
When Whitman wrote the first edition, he knew
little or nothing about Indian philosophy, but critics later have recognized
Indian ideas expressed in the poems - words from the Sanskrit are used
correctly in some of the poems written after 1858. Leaves of Grass also
includes a group of poems entitled 'Calamus', which has been taken as
reflection of the poet's homosexuality, although according to Whitman they
celebrated the 'beautiful and sane affection of man for man'. According to some
sources, Whitman had only one abortive atempt at a sexual relationship,
presumaly homosexual, in the winter of 1859-60.
During the Civil War Whitman worked as a clerk
in Washington. When his brother was wounded at Fredericksburg, Whitman went
there to care for him and also for other Union and Confederate soldiers. The
Civil War had its effect on the writer, which is shown in his prose MEMORANDA
DURING THE WAR (1875) and in the poems published under the title of DRUM-TAPS
in 1865. In
SEQUEL TO DRUM.TAPS (1865-66) appeared the great elegy on President Abraham
Lincoln, 'When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd'. Another famous poem
published about the death of Lincoln is'O Captain! My Captain!'.
"Exult O shores, and ring O bells! But I with mournful
tread, Walk the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead." (from 'O Captain, My Captain')
On the basis for his services Whitman was
given a clerkship in the Department of the Interior. He transferred then to the
attorney general's office, when his chief labelled Leaves of Grass as an
indecent book. "I wear my hat as I please indoors or out. I find no
sweeter fat than sticks to my own bones. I am the man, I suffered, I was there.
Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself. Passage to India. I
sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world. A woman waits for me. When
I give I give myself. The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.
The never-ending audacity of elected persons. Pioneers! o Pioneers!" In
England Whitman's work was better received - among his admirers were Alfred Tennyson and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. A
paralytic attack in 1873 forced Whitman to give up his work. At the age of
sixty-four, he settled in a little house on Mickle Street in Camden, New
Jersey, where spent almost the rest of his life. He was taken care of by a
widow he had befriended. His reputation, which was shadowed by his
outspokenness on sexual matters, began to rise after recognition in England by
Swinburne, Mrs Gilchrist, and E. Carpenter.
A story of Whitman's later years, told by a
publisher, reveals that the author did not lose his self-esteem during his last
years. Whitman had entered with his ruffled beard and sombrero the lobby of the
Hotel Albert in New York and every man in it raised his newspaper up top hide
his face from the author. He turned and went out. The publisher, for some
reason, followed him and asked who he was. The man said: "I am Walt
Whitman. If you'll lend me a dollar, you will be helping immortality to stumble
on." (from The March of Literature by Ford Madox Ford, 1938) Jorge Luis Borges has seen
Whitman as the hero of his epic, a character he yearned to be: "Thus, on
one page of the work, Whitman is born on Long Island; on others, in the South.
Thus, in one of the mostly authentic sections of "Song of Myself," he
relates a heroic episode of the Mexican War and says he heard the story told in
Texas, a place he never went." (from The Total Library, 1999)
In 1881 appeared a newly augmented edition of
Leaves of Grass. The following year Whitman published SPECIMEN DAYS AND
COLLECT, and in 1888 appeared a collection of his newspaper pieces, NOVEMBER
BOUGHS. His final volume was the 'Deathbed' edition of Leaves of Grass, which
he prepared in 1891-92. It concludes with the prose piece 'A Backward Glance
O'er Travel'd Roads', in which he attempts to explain his life and work.
Whitman died on March 26, 1892,
Whitman's wavelike verse and his fresh use of
language helped to liberate American poetry. He wanted to be a national bard,
his prophetic note echo, among other books, the Bible, but his erotic candor
separated him from conventionally romantic poets. He also boasted that he is
'non-literary and non-decorous' - which perhaps was not really true. When he
urged the Muse to forget the matter of Troy and develop new themes, he knew
what the matter of Troy was.
LEAVES OF GRASS: First presented as a group of
12 poems, and followed by five revised and three reissued editions during the
author's lifetime. Whitman maintained that a poet's style should be simple and
natural, without orthodox meter or rhyme. The poems were written to be spoken,
but they have great variety in rhythm and tonal volume. The central theme
arouses from Whitman's pantheistic view of life, from symbolic identification
of regeneration in nature. - Whitman's use of free verse had a deep influence
on poetry. He was a great inspiring example for the beat-generation (Ginsberg, Kerouac etc.) .In the
introduction of the work Whitman wrote: "The art of art, the glory of
expression and the sunshine of the light of letters is simplicity. Nothing is
better than simplicity... nothing can make up for excess or for the lack of
definiteness. To carry on the heave of impulse and pierce intellectual depths
and give all subjects their articulations are powers neither common nor very uncommon.
But the speak in literature with the perfect rectitude and insouciance of the
movements of animals and the unimpeachableness of the sentiment of threes in
the woods and grass by the roadside in the flawless triumph of art."
For further reading: Reader's Guide by G.W.
Allen (1970); Critical Essays on Walt Whitman, ed. by J. Woodress (1983);
Language and Style by C.C.Hollis (1983); Walt Whitman by James E. Miller Jr.,
Helen Regenstein (1990); From Noon to Starry Night: A Life of Walt Whitman by
Philip Callow (1992); Masculine Landscapes by Byrne R.S. Fone (1992); The
Growth of Leaves of Grass by M. Jimmie Killingsworth (1993); Walt Whitman; The
Centennial Essays, ed. by Ed Folsom (1994); The Cambridge Companion to Walt
Whitman, ed. by Ezra Greenspan (1995); Walt Whitman by Catherine Reef (1995);
Walt Whitman & the World, ed. by Gay Wilson Allen, Ed Folsom (1995); Walt
Whitman: A Gay Life by Gary Schmidgall (1997); Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia,
ed. by J.R. Lemaster, Donald D. Kummings (1998); Walt Whitman: A Comprehensive
Research and Study Guide, ed. by Harold Bloom (1999); A Historical Guide to
Walt Whitman, ed. by David S. Reynolds (1999); Walt Whitman, ed. by Jim Perlman
(1999); Walt Whitman by Jerome Loving (1999) - other studies among others by J.
Kaplan (1980); H. Aspiz (1980); W.H. Eitner (1981); P. Zweig (1984); D. Cavitch
(1985); M.W. Thomas (1987) - Museums: Walt Whitman's birthplace, 246 Old
Whitman Road, Huntington Station, Suffolk - Note: Edgar Lee Masters, who wrote
Spoon River Anthology, published a biography of Walt Whitmanin in 1937.
FRANKLIN EVANS, 1842
LEAVES OF GRASS, 1855 (first edition) -
Ruohoa, suom. Arvo Turtiainen
SEQUEL TO DRUM.TAPS, 1865
DEMOCRATIC VISTAS, 1871
MEMORANDA DURING THE WAR, 1875
SPECIMEN DAYS & COLLECT, 1882-83
NOVEMBER BOUGHS, 1888
COMPLETE WRITINGS, 10 vol., 1902
CORRESPONDENCE, 1961-69 (4 vols., ed. by E.H.
PROSE WORKS, 1963-64 (2 vols., ed. by F.
DAYBOOKS AND NOTEBOOKS, 1978
WALT WHITMAN: POETRY AND PROSE, 1982 (ed. by
CORRESPONDENCE 1886-1889, 1989
CORRESPONDENCE 1890-1892, 1989
THE JOURNALISM: 1834-1846, 1998
Реферат на тему: Walt(er) Whitman (1819-1892) (реферат)