Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson - Compared

Essay by BrigidADHigh School, 11th grade May 2006

download word file, 3 pages 4.0

Both Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman were important literary figures whose influence is still seen in American literature. Although Dickinson and Whitman were both alive during the nineteenth century, they had many differences. While Dickinson lived in rural Massachusetts, Whitman spent most of his life in the city. The two poets although had different levels of experience, Whitman being a Civil War nurse and Dickinson being a recluse; yet they dealt with many of the same issues through their poetry. For example, both Whitman and Dickinson explore the image of war in their poetry.

"The Wound-Dresser" by Walt Whitman describes his experience as a Civil War nurse. The second section of this poem explains a battle in which a young soldier is injured; the narrator states that he would sacrifice himself if the young boy could survive:

I onward go, I stop,

With hinged knees and steady hand to dress wounds,

I am firm with each, the pangs are sharp yet unavoidable,

One turns to me his appealing eyes - poor boy! I never knew you,

Yet I think I could not refuse this moment to die for you, if that would save you.

(Perkins 934)

A deeper insight into Whitman's thoughts is gained by Whitman use of the 'I' narration throughout this section. It shows a deeper sense of reality when something such as a war story is in the first person and in a first hand account. Whitman uses the theme of war to evoke feelings of sadness from his readers. He knows that many people will be able to relate with the theme of war since it has affected so many people either directly or indirectly. Whitman's writings are influenced by his personal war experience. During the Civil War, Whitman was an active participant. He saw...