Romanticism In William Wordsworth

1407 Words6 Pages
One of the most popular American poets is Walt Whitman. Whitman’s poetry has become a rallying cry for Americans, asking for individuality, self-approval, and even equality. While this poetry seems to be truly groundbreaking, which it objectively was, Whitman was influenced by the writings of others. While Whitman may not have believed in this connection to previous authors, critics have linked him to Emerson, Poe, and even Carlyle. However, many critics have ignored the connection between Walt Whitman and the English writer William Wordsworth. A major proponent of Romanticism, Wordsworth’s influence can be seen in Whitman 's poetry through a Romantic connection. Despite differences in form, one can see William Wordsworth’s influence on Walt…show more content…
By reading Wordsworth, one can gain a better grasp of Whitman through this similarity, which D.J. Moores argues. He states, “Although both poets had an intense distrust of language...they nevertheless believed language, particularly their own poetic language, could be a stimulus of consciousness expansion”(“Gangs” 96). In this way as well as in their mutual use of common language, the influence of Wordsworth on Whitman can be seen in the Romantic influence on the American poet. This idea of expanded consciousness is also much like the sublime, as Wordsworth says in his essay “The Sublime and the Beautiful” that the sublime is when the mind attempts“ to grasp at something towards which it can make approaches but which it is incapable of attaining” (Waldoff 124). Through the language both Whitman and Wordsworth utilize, the sublime is reachable and the consciousness of the reader expands because of it. Thus, one can further see the influence of Wordsworth on…show more content…
While Wordsworth formatted his poetry into beautiful ballads, Whitman wrote in more relatable poems, some of which truly did not follow any form. According to William E. H. Meyer Jr., “Indeed, the very substance of Whitman 's ‘barbaric yawp,’ in contrast to Wordsworth 's ‘plaintive numbers,’ is the revolutionary and unbridgeable gap that exists between a ‘song of myself’ and a ‘prelude’ or ‘lyrical ballad.’”(Meyer 83). While Wordsworth keeps more structure and regulation in his ballads, Whitman does what feels most effective. This allows for Whitman to be slightly more organic in form than Wordsworth. However, this difference can also be seen as an addition to Wordsworth, as Wordsworth advocated for organic form. Whitman’s further use of organic form is still within the influence of Wordsworth, as it ties back to the Romantic ideals he put forth. Overall, while Whitman may have denied inspiration from Wordsworth, the evidence points in a different
Open Document