Homework Help

What is Whitman's purpose when using long/unrhyming irregular lines?compare to Emily...

user profile pic

hiddenseele | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 16, 2012 at 6:39 PM via web

dislike 1 like

What is Whitman's purpose when using long/unrhyming irregular lines?

compare to Emily Dickinson's short, structured lines

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted October 16, 2012 at 8:07 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 0 like

The rhythm that Whitman sought in his choice of unrhymed free verse was of an equal connectivity, a relatedness of all phenomena, natural cycles, human emotions, etc. rather than a compartmentalization or a separation.  For this philosophical statement, short rhymed lines were antithetical to his worldview and his message; he rambled, finding a rhythm inside the events of Life itself.  To briefly compare this style to Emily Dickinson’s, her short, rhymed lines succeeded in reflecting and enforcing her worldview, of finding the symmetry inherent in every life, of searching for “order.”  Whitman was relishing the “chaos”, the multitude of possibilities in human existence.  “Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself.”   Emily Dickinson’s voice is genteel, civilized, controlled; Whitman’s voice is a “barbaric yawp.” 

Sources:

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes