Leaves Of Grass

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade November 2001

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Leaves of Grass by: Walt Whitman Ralph Waldo Emerson's 1843 essay, "The Poet,"� calls for a truly original national poet, someone who would sing of the new country in a new voice. Walt Whitman set out to answer Emerson's call and to define the American experience. Whitman published his first edition of Leaves of Grass, containing a mere 12 poems, in 1855. He published over 8 more editions in which his poems grew along with his intellectual and emotional development. Leaves of Grass is essentially a poem in its progress and Whitman's usage of style, imagery, and symbolism help him to convey his ultimate themes.

Whitman's use of style helps him to put forth a theme of, democracy, brotherhood, and the American Nation. He believed that poetry should be spoken and not written. To get across this point he uses repetition in many of his works. For example, in "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,"�(p.

200) the lines "Loud! loud! loud!"� and "Blow! blow! blow!"� are used. Another use of style was expressed on Whitman's language. He was an expert of phrases and was full of eccentricities. In "Song of Myself"�(p. 22), which is thought to be his greatest work, he is particularly descriptive. He describes the grass as, "The beautiful uncut hair of graves"�. He also used things such as, antiquated and colloquial expressions, as well as words from foreign languages to add finesse to his style. Whitman's use of rhythm is also notable. Unlike other poets his work is composed in lines, not in sentences, as prose would be. Whitman had strong beliefs in Democracy because of its respect for the individual. His use of style and jingoism was effective in getting across his theme.

Secondly, Whitman's use of imagery plays an important role in his poetical...

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