A Place for Humility: Whitman, Dickinson, and the Natural by Christine Gerhardt

By Christine Gerhardt

Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman are greatly said as of America’s most appropriate nature poets, basically as a result of their explorations of normal phenomena as evocative symbols for cultural advancements, person reports, and poetry itself. but for all their metaphorical suggestiveness, Dickinson’s and Whitman’s poems concerning the flora and fauna neither avert nor erase nature’s relevance as an exact residing setting. of their respective poetic tasks, the earth concerns either figuratively, as a realm of the mind's eye, and likewise because the actual floor that's profoundly stricken by human motion. This double standpoint, and the ways that it intersects with their formal concepts, issues past their conventional prestige as apparently disparate icons of yankee nature poetry. That either one of them not just procedure nature as an incredible topic in its personal correct, but additionally handle human-nature relationships in moral phrases, invests their paintings with very important environmental overtones.

Dickinson and Whitman constructed their environmentally suggestive poetics at approximately an identical old second, at a time whilst a big shift used to be taking place in American culture’s view and realizing of the flora and fauna. simply as they have been reaching poetic adulthood, the dominant view of desolate tract was once starting to shift from difficulty or exploitable source to an endangered treasure wanting conservation and preservation.

A position for Humility examines Dickinson’s and Whitman’s poetry at the side of this significant switch in American environmental conception, exploring the hyperlinks among their poetic initiatives in the context of constructing nineteenth-century environmental suggestion. Christine Gerhardt argues that every author's poetry participates during this shift in several yet similar methods, and that their involvement with their culture’s starting to be environmental sensibilities constitutes an enormous connection among their disparate poetic initiatives. there's few direct hyperlinks among Dickinson’s “letter to the area” and Whitman’s “language experiment,” yet through an online of environmentally-oriented discourses, their poetry engages in a cultural dialog concerning the flora and fauna and the chances and barriers of writing approximately it—a dialog within which their thematic and formal offerings meet on a stunning variety of levels.

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