Cheerful, Cheerful, Whitman
Two poets are considered precursors to modern poetry – Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. Who were about as different as two persons could be. Neither one of them knew the other, and they lived in entirely different worlds.
Dickinson wrote small poems – which have stimulated large explanations of her poetry. Whitman wrote large poems, and was such a blabber-mouth no one else could get a work in edgewise – and what was worse, no one wanted to.
Dickinson lived a very restricted life; she was practically a recluse. Whitman was a compulsive socializer who wanted to go everywhere and know everyone. Whitman wanted everyone to like him, Dickinson could care less. Dickinson was well-acquainted with all the human emotions – Whitman only the happy and enthusiastic ones (partly to cover up his less acceptable feelings). Whitman was an example of what Americans would be like for the next century. Dickinson was soon forgotten – including for a long time, her poetry.
Still, Leaves of Grass is just too much - too many poems. People in my parent’s generation usually considered it their favorite poetry. But I am absolutely certain that they were enthusiastic about it because they were supposed to be enthusiastic about it, and probably never read it.
I would like to see a much smaller selection of his works, with commentary for each selection. Unfortunately, no one has much interest in doing this. Walt was so productive that he over-produced himself.
A trap that America is prone to. We overdo everything.