A Critical Companion To Walt Whitman: A Literary Reference by Charles M. Oliver

By Charles M. Oliver

"Critical better half to Walt Whitman" comprises entries on each of Walt Whitman's poems, from the generally well-known "Song of Myself," "When Lilacs final within the Dooryard Bloom'd," and "Out of the Cradle perpetually Rocking," to his minor works. His significant prose works, akin to "A Backward look O'er Travel'd Roads" and "Democratic Vistas", every one version of "Leaves of Grass", and distinct phrases used or coined via Whitman, resembling "Eidolons" and "Paumanok," also are lined. assisting readers comprehend the affects on his existence are entries on Whitman's relations, pals, family, and neighbors; very important areas the place he lived and labored; and ideas very important to his paintings. an important reference advisor, this single-volume addition to the "Critical better half" sequence provides a wealth of knowledge at the existence and works of this nice American writer.

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The Stafford house was 12 or 13 miles upstream from Westville and about 400 yards above the creek. Walt made notes while he was at the Stafford farmhouse that would later become parts of several essays on Nature in Specimen Days (1882): After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, love, and so on— have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear—what remains? Nature remains: to bring out from their torpid recesses the affinities of a man or woman with the open air, the trees, fields, the changes of seasons— the sun by day and the stars of heaven by night.

He was 40 years old when he wrote the poem in 1859, and the immediate past four years had not been particularly happy or successful. The 795 copies of the first edition of Leaves of Grass (1855), had not sold well; and the second edition (1856), which included an additional 20 poems, had been an even greater disappointment. His father had died on July 11, 1855, a week after the first edition had gone on sale; although he had depended for moral support more from his mother, he nevertheless missed his father.

It may be up to the poet to “suggest” themes and thoughts, Whitman says, but the reader shares responsibility for making poetry work. It is the reader who must pursue his or her “flight” to theme or thought. It is in the imagination of the reader where poetry matters most. In summing up his poetic theme of democracy in “A Backward Glance,” he makes the following statement: One main genesis-motive of the “Leaves” was my conviction (just as strong to-day as ever) that the crowning growth of the United States is to be spiritual and heroic.

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