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The Folding and Unfolding of the Accordion: a Dickinson-Whitman Comparison

  • Date Submitted: 04/05/2010 04:57 AM
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Mario Palencia
Professor Schwartz
English 301B
10 March 2010
The Folding and Unfolding of the Accordion:
A Dickinson-Whitman Comparison
To what extent can two authors be different and still manage to have accord?
This question needs to be asked in order to adjudicate and compare Emily Dickenson and Walt Whitman’s poetry. What it is certain is that their approach to writing poetry is definitely different.   Dickinson’s use of unconventional punctuation, run-on lines, and short lines gives her a layering quintessence, which proves to be unique; whereas Whitman’s use of narrative, vocabulary, and grace gives him a jubilant style not achieved by many poets. Dickinson uses phrases such as “struggled scarce” (23), “The Transport of the Bird” (16), and “uncertain stumbling Buzz” (13). Something about the size and the way she puts these words together gives her a layering essence that defines her style. On the other hand, Whitman uses no boundaries. His long lines and limitless language gives the reader a sense of spatial freedom. “I lean and loaf at my ease” (1.5), “I chant a new chant of dilation or pride,” (21.8), “I understand the large hearts of heroes” (33.89). These phrases define Whitman’s style. Furthermore, these phrases are so unique that they would not be as effective if used by Dickinson, and vice versa. However, whether or not these poets sit on opposite ends of their poetic spectrum is up for debate. Their poetic styles are quite different. But, do their works enhance one another? They certainly do. Indeed, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman’s poetry show a dovetailing effect by using different subject matter, poet’s persona, and poetry-poet distance.
      A poem’s subject matter is an important component to its aesthetical qualities. For example, in her poem, “Bee! I’m Expecting You!” Dickinson apostrophizes a Bee, which on itself is a synecdoche for spring. Dickinson notices the changes that come from winter to spring, i.e. “The Frogs got Home last...


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