Dickinson and Whitman Test

Narrative Poetry
tells a story and has the literary elements as works of prose fiction
Ex: ballads and epics

Dramatic Technique
uses dramatic ways of presenting the speech of one or more characters in verse form

expresses the thoughts and feelings of a single speaker

repetition of vowel sounds

repetition of initial consonant sounds

Precise Word Choice
words that carry precise shades of meaning and express tone

Emily Dickinson
born in Amherst
Attended Amherst Academy
active social life turned to like of seclusion
published only a handful of poems during her life time
Her sister found over a thousand poems tied in fascicles and found a note saying she wanted them to be destroyed
Editors changed her poetry to fit the style of the time

exact rhyme
two or more words that have identical sounds in their final stressed syllables

slant rhyme
final sounds are similar but not identical

a statement that seems contradictory but actually presents a truth

Walt Whitman
wrote “Leaves of Grass”
first denounced for his poetry
no formal education (autodidact)
became editor of “Brooklyn Eagle”
born in long island, raised in Brooklyn
oppressed slavery
known as one of the greatest and most influential poets that US produced
broke every poetic tradition of rhyme and meter – critics attacked him for it
inspired by transcendentalists, used poetry to convey his passionate beliefs of democracy, equality, potential for every human spirit

Epic Poetry
tells a long story about a hero whose adventures embody the values of a nation

Epic Theme of Walt Whitman
Walk Whitman’s epic theme was that all people are connected by their shared experience of life

Walt Whitman’s style
– Walt Whitman’s style is marked by specific structural and poetic elements that contribute to a sense of epic sweep
– He also uses long lines to express more complex ideas or string together a list of objects
– He uses Catalogues or Lists to show the infinite range of elements, suggest a parade of images, and make them seem of equal worth

free verse
irregular meter and line formation, more like natural speech

repetition of phrases or sentences w/similar structure or meaning

Emily Dickinson Topics/Themes
often writes about religion, her soul, nature
She admires human individuality and intelligence

Emily Dickinson Style
Normally she either has no set meter/rhyme or she shifts from tetrameter and trimeter
uses capitalization and dashes, uses paradoxes often
created with great precision, eccentric capitalization and punctuation are important elements
frequently uses slant rhyme at points where the reader expects an exact rhyme helps make her poetry surprising

using the experience of one sense to express the experience of another

“Because I Could Not Stop For Death”- Emily Dickinson
No set meter or rhyme
Personification of Death
Tone: peacefulness because death seems like a friend and then because she is shocked death has come for her
Theme: Death, mortality, spirituality
Symbols: house=grave; horses=taking her to the afterlife

“Much Madness is the Divinest Sense”
no set meter or rhyme, there is alliteration, juxtaposition, and paradox
Themes: Someone who is considered different or crazy is the smartest, but the smartest are also the most mad; society says that it is best if you agree, SOCIETY V. INDIVIDUAL BELIEF
Tone: assertive
those different appear people who agree with society are normal, “sane” (conformists), people who go against and question the normal are crazy (nonconformists)
anti-transcendentalist poem

“A Narrow Fellow in the Grass”
alternates between tetra and trimeter; internal rhyme, alliteration, creates the persona of a man to tell the story
Theme: appearance vs. reality
Tone: changes from light and playful to fearful

“I Heard A Fly Buzz When I Died”
Four Stanzas (Quatrains)
Slant Rhyme – 2nd and 4th Lines
Alternates Tetrameter and Trimeter
Simile – stillness in the room compared to stillness in the air
Figurative Language
Patterns – dashes, capitalization
Narrative Poem from someone who is already dead; telling their story from beyond the grave
Mood: Eerie
1st Stanza: Flies associated with death could be interpreted as death is final, the soul dies with the body and that there is no afterlife
Comparing the stillness of the room they’re in to the stillness in between the violence of storms
The state of their room is like the eye of a storm
Second Stanza: First Line: friends and family could possibly be around (“eyes around”)
Eyes are dry – People had been crying, their eyes were wet, but now are dry
Possibly feel exhausted or even at peace
Preparing themselves for what is to come?
“Last Onset” – could be the final breath or final moment before death
“the King” – could be God being present in the room
Also believed to be death itself waiting for the deceased speaker
Fly returned and interposed (came between two things)
Interposed – use of diction to describe that the fly is an intruder
Fly interrupts a calm moment the speaker is having as they reflect on the satisfaction that a portion of them will still be here
Speaker gives up all of their “keepsakes” knowing that some part of them / their life will stay behind after they die
Fourth stanza: First Line: describing what actions/sounds the fly is making
Buzz – onomatopoeia
Dashes could represent the flight of a fly (stumbling)
Second Line: goes back to the fly interposing.. Between the speaker and the “light”
Light can be translated as a literal lantern/ candle or as a metaphor for approaching death
“Windows failed” – the speaker’s eyes closed or they have lost contact with the outside world
Finally death has reached the speaker
Tone: Sad, somber, also distracted (because of the interrupting fly)
Theme: Even in the most still or vulnerable moments of life, there can be distractions or interruptions

“There’s A Certain Slant of Light”
light is probably the light at the end of the day
winter afternoon
says the light is oppressive and heavy and painful
no one can teach the pain of the light, only understand it
Shadows are personified
when the light leaves it is like death
Theme: oppressiveness of light and its internal and external affects
Tone: depressed

“My Life Closed Twice Before Its Close”
alternating iambic trimeter and iambic tetrameter
tone: dismal, sorrowful
compares two past events to being as tragic as death (end of a relationship and death of a loved one)
theme: human suffering is a natural part of life
ending paradox: “parting is all we know of heaven and all we need of hell” – heaven and hell are opposites, a person dies and goes to heaven and leaves those behind alive in hell (speaker has been left in hell)

“The Soul Selects Her Own Society”
irregular meter, mostly slant rhymes, alliteration in the title
the soul is sperate and personified
could be referring to god, people think its abt her reclusive life
theme – abt excluding and choosing, she is rejecting everything who she does not allow in the door before closing it
also seen as a love poem bc she is showing great love for the 1 or 2 she is welcoming in the door
tone – quiet and ominous, private
speaks of someone important and regal when she shuts out “divine majority” and she does not move when the emperor kneels before her because the speaker feels they are just as great as them

“The Brain is Wider than the Sky”
iambic tetrameter/iambic trimeter
compares the brain to different things on the earth to show how important and amazing it is
she even says it is equivalent to God
Theme: human intelligence
Tone: much respect and astonishment towards the human mind

“Water is Taught by Thirst”
no regular rhyme scheme or meter, but rhythm is created through the use of hyphens
repetition of the word by to introduce ideas
entire thing is a paradox
tone – calm and informative
theme – we do not truly appreciate what we have until it’s gone, there are going to be hard times in life where we don’t always have everything, we need to be strong during those times bc this is how we learn to appreciate what we have

Song of Myself Verse 6
no rhyme scheme or meter, free verse, optimistic and curious tone
theme – we’re all connected in some way (nature shows us that, and, specifically in this verse, by grass)
grass = handkerchief of god (meaning it belongs to god and covers the earth, connecting us to each other and god)
rhetorical questions – how could i answer the child?
parts of the poem express that death doesn’t end life, that it allows it to continue after a slight pause, that everything continues or improves, death is better than the way everyone thinks of it and even “luckier”, nothing is made worse

“When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer”
Gulf b/w knowledge and imagination
Broke into two parts: First:: Anecdote describes the lecture as boring. Anecdote was to act as a stimulus for the speaker’s reaction to the lecture and eventual removal from the scene. Also shows his disapproval with both the astronomer’s way of teaching the subject matter and the audience’s response.
Second: poetic voice is revealed w/ more literary devices used.
After the lecture, the speaker goes outside to look at the stars himself. Personal experience is more meaningful than scientific lectures.
“perfect silence” – contrasting the “noisy” lecture with proofs, figures, charts and diagrams and a contrast with the applause
– Also showing how hard facts and scientific evidence are unnecessary and inadequate to describe the beauty of the stars and mystery of nature in general
Juxtaposes other ideas too: technical vs. experiential and populated vs. solitary
Theme- the best way to appreciate nature is to experience it firsthand; teaching matters related to nature with direct evidence and scientific facts takes away the true beauty and mystery of nature ; Mystery and self-knowledge are the most valuable learning tools
Free verse so it can show his unconventional view on nature
Tone: bored, dissatisfied (beginning); respectful (end)
anaphora-emphasizes speakers boredom
assonance and alliteration

“I Hear America Singing”
about American pride and the promise of freedom
talks about the voices of Americans working hard at their jobs (talks about the carpenter, boatman, hatter, mason, mother, and seamstress)
he imagines they are all singing

“A Noiseless Patient Spider”
compares the spider to the soul and how it is always changing, but sometimes unnoticed

Song of Myself Verse 1
free meter
author is celebrating himself and the life he has
He wants us to assume that whatever is said in the poem we should take as our own opinions as if we are the authors
we are all the same and belong to the same community
personification of his soul
He is part of a cycle
Wants religion and school to stop so that the world can see something more real and direct
Tone: hopeful, peaceful, calm
Theme: identity, spirituality, circle of life, we must celebrate our souls and the life we life

Song of Myself Verse 51
free verse
past and present are compared to plants that wilted
looks toward the future
Theme: people are susceptible to change; it is part of human life to grow and react to events around us
Might be talking to God

Song of Myself Verse 52
he sees a hawk and feels humbled, in his mind the hawk tells him to hurry up and finish the poem, the day leads him to the darkness (maybe metaphor for death), ties together to older idea of the grass w/the dead people, we must look for Whitman in the grass because when we walk over him we will be given strength and good health, he says he has stopped for us in his journey so that we can catch up