Walt Whitman as a Poet of Democracy

Walt Whitman as a Poet of Democracy

Walt Whitman: Introduction :-

Walt Whitman is the greatest poet of America. He is the man who revolutionized American thoughts and poetry. He invented a whole new poetic form and opened up the topic to such a wide range that nobody else had touched. He was a volatile editor and writer. He had strong concerns about women property rights, immigration and the major issues of the day such as slavery.
Walt Whitman as a poet of Democracy
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Walt Whitman : A poet of Democracy :-

Whitman is considered to be the greatest democracy poet of America. In fact, his love for democracy has got him wide acclaim all over the world. A born Democrat, democracy is the central thought of many of his poems. He takes proud in being an American and believes America to be a pivot of democracy and science.

Whitman was a representative poet of America. For him all Americans are equal irrespective of their race, colour, caste, religion or sex. His works assert the worth of common people. He takes pride in celebrating  the self and perceives this 'self' in common with american people. In his I celebrate myself he writes :-

"I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And that I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you."

          These lines represent his affiliation with the comman men and down to earth approach. For him the genius of America lay in the common people.

His Song of Myself is replete with unforgettable panoramic pictures of American people and remarkable scenery. In this poem by singing for himself he sings for all, for he does not differentiate himself from other and takes pride in possessing many things in common with the average Americans.

His democracy is rooted in the inherent worth and dignity of the common people. He mentions a number of occupations and professions such as that of the pilot, the carpenter, the duck-shooter, the spinning girl etc. and for him all are equally honourable. His democracy is based on the ideals of liberty of individual, fraternity, brotherhood and equality. He sings of breaking off from the old dead traditions and conventions and emphasises on the need to be free and self reliant.

For Whitman democracy is not merely a political dogma, his approach to democracy is different. For him democracy is not just the political liberty and freedom but a possibility of universal peace and justice, brotherhood, tolerance and end of impediments to personal development. He talks of universal brotherhood as is evident from these lines of his Song of myself :-

"And that all the man ever born are also my brothers,

And the women my sisters and lovers."

Whitman also finds nature for his conception of democracy. He draws many symbols from nature such as grass, lilacs, hermit thrush etc. Almost his every poems such as When lilacs last in the dooryard bloome'd, O Captain! My Captain!, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry are excellent examples of use of symbolism. He presents lilacs as a symbol of love for ideal political leader. In his O Captain! My Captain! the whole nation of America is symbolised as a ship, which in turn suggests his approach for nationalism and democracy.

                 Thus Whitman, a prophet of democracy, is very practical and pragmatic in his approach. His Leaves of Grass is an unmatched work, establishing him not only as a great democratic poet of America but of the whole world. He takes different path for his idea of democracy which is universalistic and all inclusive.


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Frequently asked questions:-

1) What is Whitman's most famous poem?

 Whitman's most famous work is leaves of Grass. It is an collection of poems which was published in 1855. However Whitman rewrote and revised it multiple times until his death. This collection includes his poems such as Song of Myself, When lilacs last in the dooryard bloome'd, I sing the body electric etc.

2) What is the Trinity of symbols in the poem when lilacs last in the dooryard bloome'd?

Answer- The Trinity of symbols in the poem when lilacs last in the dooryard bloome'd is of lilac, star and the singing bird.

3)What is Walt Whitman best known for?

Answer- Whitman was America's best poet. He was representative poet of America. He is best known for his democracy poems which assert on the ideals of universalism, brotherhood, equality, liberty and dignity of individual. He is a poet of love, beauty, nature and friendship

4) Why is Walt Whitman considered the father of American poetry?

Answer- Walt Whitman revolutionised the American poetry. He introduced the free verse to American poetry and made the poetry accessible to the general masses. His poetry deals with the subjects of love, nature, freedom and democracy.

5) What is Walt Whitman's writing style?

Answer- Whitman wrote in free verse with long lines.

6) Is O Captain! My Captain! a part of Leaves of Grass?

Answer- O Captain! My Captain! was first published in 1865 in Sequel to drum-Taps. The poem was included in Leaves of Grass in 1867 and subsequent editions.

7) O Captain! My Captain! is written on the death of which American President?

Answer- Abraham Lincoln.

8) In which year President Lincoln was assassinated?


9) Who are the three famous American romantic poets?

Answer-Emerson, Whitman and Thoreau.
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