Longfellow Compared to Whitman

Poetry Foundation – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As you know, I have been reading Walt Whitman’s America: A Cultural Biography. And I have been surprised to discover that these two lived and wrote at the same time.

Whitman is now considered (along with Dickinson) as one of the founders of American poetry. Why?

Because, I think – Whitman was more American.

Longfellow was from New England, but more was happening, in Antebellum America, further South, centered in New York City. Whitman was part of that scene. He didn’t like it, especially – but he could not resist it.

This scene was dirty – to speak plainly – and Whitman covered himself in this mud. First, as a journalist – and then as a poet.

He thought he refined it in his writing – and perhaps he did. But Americans loved sensational writing – and he was full of it.

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