Engl | Literature homework help

Literature 232 Walt Whitman & Emily Dickinson

Part A

Show how Walt Whitman in Song of Myself demonstrates an ability to see the

divine not only in nature but in men and women. 

Part B

Emily Dickinson’s nature imagery expresses both a delight in nature, suggestive of New England Transcendentalism, and a Calvinistic sense of the evil in nature.  Which is more common, the delight or the sense of evil?

Part C

More critical commentary has been written about “Because I could not stop for Death” than about any other Dickinson poem, and it has most frequently been praised for its uncommon view of death.

 –Is the home-grave symbolism adequately related to the rest of the poem?

 –What are the implications of the words stop and kindly in the first stanza?

 –The events described in the poem suggest a wedding, with death as the bridegroom.  Does union with death therefore become in some way desirable, a fulfillment?

 –If the poem shows an affable acceptance of death, is the poem thereby the more chilling and terrifying, suggesting that those stricken with the presence of death become unable, even unwilling, to resist their destroyer?

Part D

What, for Emily Dickinson, constitutes the ultimate threat?  Is it the supernatural?  Is it death?  Is it a void, the unknowable, a nothingness that follows disintegration of the self?  Is it separation from friends and familiar objects?

Part E

In paragraph two of the 1855 “Preface” to Leaves of Grass, Whitman asserts that the “United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem.”  Discuss the significance of Whitman’s assertion and how his view of the United States as “the greatest poem” controls his choice of poetic subject matter, imagery, and philosophy in Song of Myself.

Part F

The idea of poet as redeemer is frequently encountered in Whitman’s poetry and prose.  Discuss the role of the poet as Whitman sets it forth in the 1855 “Preface” to Leaves of Grass.  For example, explain Whitman’s confident forecast that “There will soon be no more priests,” that a “superior breed [poets and prophets] shall take their place.” Use other examples from Song of
 Myself that express this same belief in the redemptive quality of the poet.

Part G

Whitman uses catalogs (long lists) to convey the idea of the poet united with nature.  Show how that union of poet and nature is presented in Song of Myself.

Part H

Whitman teaches that humanity is naturally good.  Is Whitman too optimistic, too uncritical?  Does he simply ignore evil?  Does he refuse to recognize views contrary to the doctrine that man is a divine creation? 

Part I

Show how Whitman in Song of Myself demonstrates an ability to see the divine not only in nature but in men and women. 

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