Whitman in old age
November 4, 2011 § Leave a comment
Some last thoughts, links, regarding Whitman at the end.
The Robert Creeley essay Professor Folsom mentioned, that disputes the conventional view that Whitman’s poetry in old age fails in comparison to his earlier writing.
One of the texts that has been neglected, based on this commonplace that Whitman’s work after the Civil War fails, is the highly experimental Two Rivulets published in 1876 (as a companion to Leaves of Grass). Note the way Whitman blends poetry and prose. I wrote an article recently that gives more thought to this text and to the older Whitman, in relation to the Emerson he seems to be rejecting. It also focuses on Whitman’s “poetics of digestion.”
Whitman, in his old age, writes a piece that looks back onto Emerson’s influence, and looks (somewhat unfavorably) on Emerson in his old age. The piece is called, wonderfully: “Emerson’s Books (The Shadows of Them)” Here is the conclusion of that piece: