Walt Whitman(1819-1892), broke the literary tradition of his time with regards to content, form and style of his vigorous verse. Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), while living a life of seclusion, was very audacious mentally, revealing a complex psyche struggling to press her inner conflicts, which she interprets through the creative and reflective act of language.
Writing about sex, (the) human body, many other "taboo" subjects and common objects and people, Whitman and Dickinson address the larger matters of life, namely death and religion. .
Although they often deal with the same themes, their approaches differ and both pioneered their own unique style of writing. Whitman's style of free verse develops in complex and expansive lines and stanzas, which are nevertheless visually descriptive, painting to the readers a clear picture of what he wants them to see through a direct and impacting tone. Dickinson's works, in contrast, condense intense feelings and thoughts in a few terse lines, in which, despite innocent and simple language, her symbolic and careful word-choice makes the main message very ambiguous and difficult to interpret. Her unique free style is due mainly to her peculiar placement of punctuation, such as dashes that break the lines keeping them open, unusual grammar and capitalization of seemingly banal words. .
The following analysis investigate, separately, a passage from Whitman's "Song of Myself" and Emily Dickinson's poem 334 -see Appendix- focusing on thematic contents and on the formal aspects which lead to their interpretation. The conclusive paragraph draws on the common motifs to Whitman and Dickinson in the poems analyzed.
1. The letters of Emily Dickinson .
Emily Dickinson distinguished herself not only for her poetry but also as writer of letters sent to friends, relatives. There is a close connection between letter-writing and aspects of feminine domestic culture: Dickinson's letters are gifts for her addressees, to comfort and nurture them, works of her hands and mind comparable to cooking, sewing, and paying visits (Tingle,2009).