Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson

Walt Whitman was born May 31st, 1819 in West Hills, Long Island New York as the second of eight surviving children. (Levine, 21). Walt Whitman would soon be employed in the printing office of a newspaper (Levine, 21) where he would learn this trade and be introduced to journalism (Loving, par. 1). In his teenage years, Whitman would begin contributing to different newspapers and spent five years teaching at small town schools on Long Island and in 1838 started a newspaper of his own and interrupted his teaching (Levine, 21). Before the age of 21, Whitman quit his job teaching and moved to Manhattan where he soon became editor of a Manhattan daily, The Aurora (Levine, 21). Whitman also started a political career by speaking at Democratic rallies and writing for the Democratic Review (Levine, 21). Returning to Brooklyn in 1845, Whitman became a contributor to the Long Island Star; assigned to Manhattan events including theatrical and musical performances which Whitman later states without the “emotions, raptures and uplifts” of opera he could have never written Leaves of Grass (Levine, 21). I do believe theatrical and musical performances can change perspective on various things. Being exposed to the world of performance and talent (even if you are not necessarily a part of it) can provide different views, outlooks and perspectives on art and forms of expression. I, myself, was enrolled in a theater class throughout my freshman to senior year of high school and although not the same as Whitman’s experience can attest to the change of perspective that I had learning about the theatrical world. Whitman went on to take over editorship of the Brooklyn Eagle where he was later fired because he became a “Free-Soiler”, opposed to the acquisition of more territory for slavery (Levine, 21, 22). Whitman was strong in his political standpoint and served as a delegate to the Buffalo Free-Soil convention and helped to found the Free-Soil newspaper the Brooklyn Freeman (Levine, 22). Around this time, he began to writing poetry in a serious way (Levine, 22).

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Emily Dickinson was born on December 10th, 1830 in Amherst Massachusetts as the second child of Emily Norcross Dickinson and Edward Dickinson (Levine, 83). The Dickinson family were among Amherst’s most prominent families economically, politically and intellectually (Levine, 83). Emily Dickinson grew up and lived most of her life in the Dickinson family homestead in Amherst (Levine, 83). Dickinson did not get out of town often and is said to have had “a reclusive existence spent almost entirely in the Dickinson homestead” (Eberwein par. 1). For Dickinson, home was a place of “Infinite power” (Levine, 83). Emily Dickinson attended Amherst Academy from 1840 through 1846 and boarded at the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary for less than a year, never completing the three-year course of study (Levine, 83). The students at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary were regularly queried as to whether they “professed faith,” had “hope,” or were resigned to “no hope”, of which Emily remained adamantly among the small group of “no hopes” (Levine, 83). Emily Dickinson went on to assert that her inability to conform to the conventional expectations of her evangelical culture is what helped liberate her to think on her own (Levine, 83).

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Walt Whitman And Emily Dickinson. (2021, Jul 01). Retrieved January 31, 2023 , from

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