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

By Christine Gerhardt

Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman are extensively stated as of America’s greatest nature poets, essentially because of their explorations of usual 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 restrict nor erase nature’s relevance as an exact dwelling surroundings. of their respective poetic tasks, the earth issues either figuratively, as a realm of the mind's eye, and in addition because the actual floor that's profoundly plagued by human motion. This double viewpoint, and the ways that it intersects with their formal thoughts, issues past their conventional prestige as apparently disparate icons of yankee nature poetry. That either one of them not just strategy nature as an enormous topic in its personal correct, but in addition tackle human-nature relationships in moral phrases, invests their paintings with vital environmental overtones.

Dickinson and Whitman constructed their environmentally suggestive poetics at approximately an analogous old second, at a time while an incredible shift was once happening in American culture’s view and figuring out of the wildlife. simply as they have been attaining poetic adulthood, the dominant view of desert was once commencing to shift from hindrance or exploitable source to an endangered treasure wanting conservation and preservation.

A position for Humility examines Dickinson’s and Whitman’s poetry along with this significant switch in American environmental belief, exploring the hyperlinks among their poetic initiatives in the context of constructing nineteenth-century environmental proposal. 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 a big connection among their disparate poetic tasks. there's few direct hyperlinks among Dickinson’s “letter to the area” and Whitman’s “language experiment,” yet through an internet of environmentally-oriented discourses, their poetry engages in a cultural dialog concerning the flora and fauna and the probabilities and barriers of writing approximately it—a dialog during which their thematic and formal offerings meet on a shocking variety of levels.

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