Comparison of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickenson


The relationship between Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson can be drawn from typical kids in school classroom. There is Walt, the popular, sociable, talkative kid in the class who is known by everyone. Then there is Emily, the strange, artistic, quiet girl who sits by herself in the corner with no friends. This comparison is similar to what Whitman and Dickenson are really like. The following is about how Dickinson and Whitman are different and how they are alike.

The differences in these two legendary poets are numerous. First, their writing styles are opposite of each other. Whitman wrote with very bold strokes. For example, he was very extravagant with words. From his poem Song of Myself, he wrote, “Alone far in wilds and mountains I hunt, Wandering amazed at my own lightness and glee…” This is one of the many examples of boldness in his works. He wrote in free verse, which meant that his poems sometimes did not rhyme. For example, in his poem A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim, he writes, “As from my tent I emerge so early sleepless, As slow I walk in the cool fresh air the path near by the hospital tent, Three forms I see on stretchers lying, brought out there untended lying…” This means that Whitman did not care about the typical rules of poetry. Emily Dickinson wrote with extreme precision. She chose every word very carefully. Her poem If you were coming in the Fall said, “It goads me, like the goblin bee, that will not state its sting…” Her use of the simile comparing the fears of waiting for the bee to sting her and her loneliness in that exert was very profound and intelligent. Emily’s goal of writing poems was to evoke private thoughts and feelings. She was an emotional and dramatic writer. For example, in her poem Apparently with No Surprise, she wrote,”To any happy flower, The frost beheads it at its play, In accidental power...” Second, Dickinson and Whitman’s lifestyles were very different from each other. Whitman led an exciting life. He traveled frequently. For example, he went to New Orleans and all over during the Civil War. Whitman was also very sociable. Also, he was a spokesman and became very famous. Emily Dickinson had a more secluded life. She lived alone with no husband or kids. She also did not write poems to become famous. She only wrote them for close friends and family, and some for leisure time. She never published them either. She even went as far as to destroy some of her poems before she died. Because of this, she was never famous until after her death. In all, Emily was more of a delicate person while Whitman was bold.
There are not as many similarities between these two poets as there are differences. However, the similarities are still very significant. Dickinson and Whitman were both innovators of poetry, in their own ways. Whitman introduced free verse to the world of poetry and made poems of extravagance and power. Dickenson made poems of delicacy and emotion. Prior to them, there weren’t poets who could write in the way they did. Both poets also were models for future poets. Whitman inspired many to his bold writing style while Dickenson touched many with her careful way of writing her stanzas.

In conclusion, these two poets are very different from each other, like the students in the class. Both had their own unique goals in their writing. Their main differences included their writing style and their life, while their similarities included inspiration and being innovators of their time. They will be remembered for many years to come for their skills in literature.