Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson

The father and mother of American poetry! That is what this pair have been called; see Ginsberg, along with Sharon Olds and Galway Kinnell singing their praises: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2M5O3_FYB4A


This week we have explored “Song of Myself”, “The Brooklyn Ferry” and a host of poems by Emily Dickinson. The present such an astonishing difference in life-style and yet share so much in common in their reaction to authoritarian religion and their quest for personal freedom. Here too, is a wonderful short clip on a recent exhibition on Emily Dickinson’s life and work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLeMZ5WIdrI

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church –

I keep it, staying at Home –

With a Bobolink for a Chorister –

And an Orchard, for a Dome –

writes Dickinson, while Whitman warbles:

Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touch’d from

The scent of these arm-pits aroma finer than prayer,

This head more than churches, bibles, and all creeds.

Blog topics for this week (enjoy)

1/ Write a poem in the style of Emily Dickinson beginning with any of the following opening lines:

A Bird, came down the Walk….

I head a Fly buzz – when I died-

I cannot live with you…

I started Early – took my Dog-

The Brain – wider than the Sky-

A narrow Fellow in the Grass…

2/ Write a poem in the style of Whitman beginning with the any of the following opening lines:

I believe a leaf of grass…

I think I could turn and live with animals…

Unscrew the locks from the doors…

The little one sleeps in its cradle…

I celebrate and sing myself…

3/  Give a brief account (in your own words) of why Whitman referred to Abraham Lincoln as “O Captain! My Captain”.

4/ If you have seen the film A Quiet Passion write a brief review of the film saying how it has opened your eyes to the kind of poet Emily Dickinson was.

5/ Create your own topic that weaves your impressions of either Whitman or Dickinson (or both) into a paragraph that expresses your sense of what is personally important about these two artists.

Enjoy… and get reading Huck!



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