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Can you interpret the poem Had I the Choice by Walt Whitman?I am taking a class where...

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wncc | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 20, 2010 at 8:36 AM via web

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Can you interpret the poem Had I the Choice by Walt Whitman?

I am taking a class where we have to analyze it and tell if it contains similes, metaphors, personification, etc.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 20, 2010 at 4:28 PM (Answer #1)

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The language of imagery is present in Whitman's poem.  Driving from the subjective sense of self, Whitman is able to construct a realm where he is able to link the personal experience with an external conception of self, aided by figurative language as a way of re-describing the internal consciousness.  There is not much in way of direct simile or comparative language.  Yet, Whitman is able to draw upon the metaphor of the writer as a part of an intertextual connection to past artists.  Whitman creates the idea that literature is a book of different artists representing different parts of it and in employing the images of Shakespeare, Tennyson, or Homer, he is suggesting that all literature is linked to one another.  He personifies each writer with a description of their subject.  Homer is personified with wars and warriors, Shakespeare is linked to personal torment, while Tennyson is embodied by "fair ladies."  In being able to link each writer to a particular concept, Whitman is able to employ language descriptive of that writer and reflect a part that he, himself, would wish to have.  In the end, if the choice is between technical skill or emotional connection with each, Whitman advocates for the latter in pure subjective expression.

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