What is Whitman's purpose when using long/unrhyming irregular lines?
compare to Emily Dickinson's short, structured lines
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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.”
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