whitman and Dickinson American Literature questions

Book: Anthology of American Literature Volume II:

Realism to the Present.Edited by McMichael, et.al., 10th ed., Prentice Hall.

“Song of Myself” : 1, 6, & 7; pages 71 & 74-75;

“Songs” 15, 21, & 52;

“The Wound Dresser” pages 136-137;

“Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” pages 123-128

1. In “Wild Nights,”( #249) to whom could the persona be speaking? Who is the “Thee”? Could there be multiple interpretations? How does this conflict with your idea of who Dickinson was?

2. In “The Brain is Wider than the Sky,” Dickinson seems to be making a statement about the power of the human mind. What message exactly is she conveying? Is it effective? Why?

3. What are some of the influences on her poetry and how are they evidenced? Where can you site these influences?

6. Personally, which selections of Dickinson’s resonate, if any, for you? Explain how the works affect or why the poems fail to reach or appeal to your sensibilities.

7. What sort of individual is the speaker of “Song of Myself”? Is there difficulty in identifying with the persona? Why or why not? Explore and explain.

8. Where do you see Whitman’s experience as a journalist emerge in his poetry? Cite an example by naming the title of the poem and quoting a line as a means of illustrative evidence. Explain the significance of this element in Whitman’s work.

10. Describe the speaker in “Wound Dresser”. To whom is he speaking? What could his message be? What are the speaker’s views on war? Cite a line from the poem to support your response.

11. What is the significance of grass in Whitman’s poetry? Note that the title of life’s work is Leaves of Grass and he references this phrase several times in his poems. It may be helpful to think of how he uses this as a metaphor.

13. Provide a personal comment on Whitman’s work. Why do you suppose he is considered such a major figure in and contributor to American Literature? How does his work manage to stand the test of time? Feel free to react personally to these questions.

14. What differences and similarities do you see in Whitman’s and Dickinson’s poetry?