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What traditional elements of poetry does Walt Whitman abandon? What new elements does...

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rushingad | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 5, 2009 at 8:33 AM via web

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What traditional elements of poetry does Walt Whitman abandon? What new elements does he put in their place?

I need an example of one poem to discuss its craft and composition.

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neneta | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted December 20, 2009 at 7:51 PM (Answer #1)

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In the two first lines, the speaker describes the movement of people in a cafe-bar. It is wintertime and people assemble around the stove to get warm. Nevertheless, the speaker does not need any artificial warm as he is expecting his lover who will give him human warm. Then, the speaker will not need to scrutinize other people who make promises in vain and tell obscene jokes. What is vital is that the speaker´s lover will be sitting beside him, holding hands and perhaps they will not need to say a word.

Walt Whitman, who wrote in the eighty fifties, was an American poet, who disregarded the traditional meter and rhyme, as a result we may consider Whitman a pre-modernist; however, his poems have a natural rhythm. Look at the words “caught, crowd, workmen, drivers and around”. They are all examples of consonance that suggest loud groups of people. Then take a look in the last lines, where the words” content” and “happy together” implies harmony.

It is interesting to know that Whitman was homosexual and he assumed it in his poems. Few writers and poets assumed their homosexuality at those times. Thus, in this poem, we can take into account that the speaker is the poet himself.

Moreover, Whitman preferred to use simple diction, in which words would rule straightforward. However, in this poem, he uses internal rhythm  by using words like : “caught” “crowd” “stove” “corner” and he uses some end-rhyme with words like “and”, “hand”, “and”, masculine rhyme because they are restricted to a single stressed syllable.

Finally, the images that we have in the end of the poem are the opposite of those in the first lines in that they suggest peacefulness instead of turmoil.

This poem is part of “Leaves of Grass”.

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