American poetry is always an interesting and exciting topic for discussion. There are numerous similarities between the works by Walt Whitman and Robert Frost. Both of them have inspired generations with their unique poetry.
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Walt Whitman’s Biography
The poet was born in a small village in 1819 (Meltzer, 2002). He has spent his childhood on the farm and later had to move to Brooklyn. Walt Whitman left his school to become a student of a printer and started publishing his poems. His life was not easy because he had to work at different jobs at the same time. The author’s family was extremely patriotic, and the influence of his father can be seen in his poems. What is interesting is that he wrote only one collection of poems during his whole life. Leaves of Grass is unique because all the editions are different. The author was making small changes to it in an attempt to make it perfect.
Meltzer (2002) states that “he captured the emotions and imaginations of Americans, the people he loved” (p. 8). Differently put, this poet was able to express his true feelings through his works. He was able to create images that were understood by the readers by pouring his soul into his poetry. He had to face many challenges on his path, but he continued mastering his craft. His works were often criticized and attacked, but it did not stop the poet (Loving, 2000). He has tried out numerous careers during his life, but there was nothing that he liked more than poetry. He made some crucial mistakes during his life. However, there is no question that he is an excellent author.
Walt Whitman’s Poetry
“For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you” (Whitman, 2013) is one of the opening lines in Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself. The author can create a connection with readers with these emotional words because he directly addresses them. This line means that there is no difference between humans because all of them have their feelings, ambitions, and emotions. This poem is truly inspirational, and it should be noted that he believed that every individual finds a new body after leaving this world.
The word death is used over ten times throughout the whole piece because it has a special meaning for the poet. The theme of reincarnation can be seen in many of his works. This poem is rather intense and tragic at the same time because he describes both good and bad events. It is separated into fifty-two parts that are different in their structure and length. However, every single piece is like a continuation of a previous one. Most of it is free poetry that was extremely popular at that time. He speaks mostly from his point of view, but it can be argued that it is not the same person in all the parts of this poem. Metaphors are used throughout the whole work.
For example, doors that await a stranger in this poem mean a path to a different and better life. Also, it should be noted that almost every verse in this poem has its own meaning. Similes are also used. “Ya-honk he says and sounds it down to me like an invitation” (Whitman, 2013) is an interesting line. Goose sounds have some deeper meaning that most do not understand according to the author. “The twinges that sting like needles his legs and neck” (Whitman, 2013) is another great example.
The comparison between the sudden pain in legs and pain from the injection of a needle is magnificent. He uses personification in lines such as “The pure contralto sings in the organ loft” (Whitman, 2013). He believes that a voice is capable of doing things itself. This creates a unique atmosphere that cannot be described by words. A reader is going through a unique experience in each part of this poem. Rare words are also often used. However, it is not hard to understand the meaning of particular lines because he uses simple language. Also, it is interesting that he sometimes rhymes words with themselves and it makes this piece truly unique. It allows him to express his real feelings without altering them so they can fit in particular rhyme schemes. Overall, this is a masterpiece of American poetry.
Robert Frost’s Biography
Robert Frost is a national poet. He was born in San Francisco in 1974 (Frost & Schmidt, 2008). He respected both his mother and father and wanted to try their professions. He had a hard childhood because his grandfather was very strict and demanded too much from a young boy. His family was penniless after his father died, and he had to take numerous jobs to help his mother. He was a gifted student.
He showed an excellent understanding of different subjects and always wanted to know more. However, he had no intention of going to college because he was interested in poetry. He studied British poems, and it helped him to form his unique style. Frost is very different from other authors because he had his way of doing poetry (Timmerman, 2002). Many think of him as a tragic poet because of his hard life (Bloom, 2009).
He kept losing the people that were close to him, and it is reflected in his works. However, he did not give up and kept going forward. Hatch and College (2007) state that “one of Frost’s underlying concerns is whether there is indeed any telos, any goal, or any final cause of the reality in which we find ourselves” (p. 81). In other words, his works were often focused on topics of life and death. His poems had many meanings that were hard to notice most of the time. The author’s sincerity was one of his best qualities. One always gets the feeling that he is reading something personal. Robert Frost has received numerous rewards and prizes that he deserved. The title of a poet laureate is one of his greatest achievements.
Robert Frost’s Poetry
In his poem The Pasture, Robert Frost invites a person to see the world. “I’m going out to clean the pasture spring” (Frost & Schmidt, 2008) is an excellent way to grab the attention of readers. It is the first poem in his collection North of Boston, and it is one of the author’s finest works. It should be said that one must imagine everything that is described to understand the greatness of this piece. The author paints a unique picture of this relatively small piece of art. It is like an introduction to something exciting, ambiguous, and mysterious. “I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away” (Frost & Schmidt, 2008) is another memorable line.
It means that there is nothing in this world that can distract him from what is important, except for a simple everyday task. “And wait to watch the water clear, I may” (Frost & Schmidt, 2008) means that nature can cure everyone’s pain, and it just needs some time to do it. He describes a picture of a calf standing next to a cow. “It totters when she licks it with her tongue” (Frost & Schmidt, 2008) makes a reader understand how beautiful it is. “I shan’t be gone long” (Frost & Schmidt, 2008) is used twice in this poem. This phrase has a very profound meaning. It signifies that a person does not fade away into nothingness after death but comes back as a spirit to look at others and protect them.
Similarities and Differences
It is hard to compare these two poems because they are very different. The first similarity that should be noted is that both poets describe nature and its beauty. Another similarity is that the themes of rebirth are explored in both poems. It is done in distinct ways, but very alike at the same time. Also, authors were able to write such excellent poems that there are several meanings to each line. It is also important that they touch such important topics as the connection between people and nature. It can be said that both poets were way ahead of their time because they really loved their craft.
The biggest difference is that Robert Frost preferred to use rhyme schemes to make his poems sound much beautiful and sophisticated when Walt Whitman did not want to be restricted in any way and liked to experiment with the structure of his poems. Another difference is that the second author does not use figures of speech in his poem. It was probably done intentionally not to distract the reader from the picture that he is painting with his words.
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Walt Whitman uses numerous methods to make his poem interesting, and it is necessary because it is quite long and hard to understand for most people. There are no rhymes most of the time because he believed that poetry is not such an art form that should have limitations. His spirit was rebellious, and he did not like to follow the rules. This makes his works very diverse and unique. Whitman’s and Frost’s poems are very different but quite similar at the same time. It should also be noted that these authors had opposite political views.
In conclusion, both of them are great American poets. Their works will always be remembered and stay in the hearts of people. Their poems are truly magnificent and beautiful. They were able to inspire generations because authors have poured their souls into their works. Some of them were very controversial during their lives, but the world has changed and now we can finally appreciate these masterpieces for what they are. It is a unique art form that has been changing over the years, but there is something that will always stay the same. Poetry is an incredibly powerful tool to express real emotions and feelings.
Bloom, H. (2009). Robert Frost. New York, NY: Infobase Publishing.
Frost, R., & Schmidt, G. D. (2008). Robert Frost. New York, NY: Sterling.
Hatch, J. C., & College, H. (2007). The pastoral of limits in Robert Frost. Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture 40(1), 81-104.
Loving, J. (2000). Walt Whitman. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Meltzer, M. (2002). Walt Whitman: A biography. Brookfield, CT: Twenty-First Century Books.
Timmerman, J. H. (2002). Robert Frost. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press.
Whitman, W. (2013). Walt Whitman: Selected poems 1855-1892. Ney York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.