U.S. literary history has followed two essentially separate approaches to poetry. Poets such as Anne Bradstreet, Phillis Wheatley, and William Cullen Bryant followed a dominant tradition that was based on the British masters of conventional forms and assumed that poetic art depended on formal diction and specific structures; however, at the same time, many poets pursued a countercurrent based on Henry David Thoreau’s contention that “Poetry is nothing but healthy speech” and Walt Whitman’s declaration that the old British poetic forms had no place in the New...
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