Read the following selections from Norton Anthology of Literature Volume B and CITE THESE READINGS IN THE ESSAY:
– Walt Whitman, pp. 1310-1329; 1395-1402; 1409-1416 (8th ed.); 1294-1311; 1376-1382; 1395-1402 (9th ed.)
– Herman Melville, pp. 1424-1427; 1483-1509; 1583-1587 (8th ed.); 1410-1413; 1469-1495; 1569-1573 (9th ed.)
– Emily Dickinson, pp. 1659-1663; 1700-1704 (8th and 9th eds.); selected poems (there are no titles, so go by the top number, not the one in brackets): 39, 112, 202, 207, 236, 256, 260, 269, 279, 320, 340, 347, 359, 373, 448, 479, 519, 588, 591, 648, 656, 706, 760, 935, 1096, 1108, 1163, 1263, 1593, and 1173 (8th and 9th eds.)
This assignment will be submitted to Turnitin®.
Answer five of the following questions, using quotes from the readings for support.
1. What would you say is the conceptual unit of a Whitman poem? In other words, what does he seem to think are the qualities that make a line, a stanza, a poem? What is the effect of his long sets of repetitions? Which lines, in particular, are good examples of his style?
2. To what extent might the narrator of “Bartleby” be using the character Bartleby as an evasion, a way of not looking squarely at the emptiness of the narrator’s own life?
3. How do poems from Battle-Pieces (pp. 1583-1587) compare to Whitman’s poems from Drum-Taps (pp. 1395-1402)? How do these two depictions of the Civil War differ? Both writers are Northerners with sympathy for the Union Army, but do their beliefs show through in their poems, or do the writers depict the war from a national perspective, without preference for either side?
4. Is Dickinson’s poetry similar to Whitman’s, or are they opposites in their word choices and ideas? To whom do they seem to be writing (perhaps not literally, but in the sense of the type of reader who would be receptive to their work)? Which of Dickinson’s poems remind you of Whitman (and vice versa)?
5. Read aloud poem 479 to better understand the sounds created by Dickinson’s word choice and pauses. How does the tone of this poem make appearances in her other pieces, such as numbers 448, 591, and 656? Consider how each of these poems sheds light on the psychological fixations, fears, or yearnings, and the volatile balance of belief and disbelief that might be at the heart of poem number 479.
6. What happens if we read poem number 479 as about a real landscape? Imagine this: If we look at an old map for the route that a carriage would take from the Dickinson house to the local cemetery where many of the Dickinson family were buried, we see that we might pass sights that the speaker sees out her window–a school, open fields, and at the cemetery itself, a house “in the ground,” right across from the Dickinson grave site. This “house” was what they used to call a “receiving tomb,” and it was used to store a coffin if the ground was too frozen to dig a new grave. What can readers gain by imagining this scene as they read the poem? Is the message complicated in any way by this extra information about the time period? Can we think of Dickinson as a nature poem (like Bryant or even Whitman) and also as a poet who delves in dark and universal experiences? For more information on The Norton Anthology of Literature visit this: https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Norton-Anthology-of-English-Literature
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