Essay on british poet robert burns

Walt Whitman is America’s world poet—a latter-day successor to Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Shakespeare. In Leaves of Grass (1855, 1892), he celebrated democracy, nature, love, and friendship. This monumental work chanted praises to the body as well as to the soul, and found beauty and reassurance even in death.

Along with Emily Dickinson , Whitman is regarded as one of America’s most significant 19th-century poets. Born on Long Island, Whitman grew up in Brooklyn and received limited formal education. His occupations during his lifetime included printer, schoolteacher, reporter, and editor. Whitman’s self-published Leaves of Grass was inspired in part by his travels through the American frontier and by his admiration for Ralph Waldo Emerson . This important publication underwent eight subsequent editions during his lifetime as Whitman expanded and revised the poetry and added more to the original collection of twelve poems. Emerson himself declared the first edition was “the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed.”

Whitman published his own enthusiastic review of Leaves of Grass . Critics and readers alike, however, found both Whitman’s style and subject matter unnerving. According to The Longman Anthology of Poetry , “Whitman received little public acclaim for his poems during his lifetime for several reasons:  this openness regarding sex, his self-presentation as a rough working man, and his stylistic innovations.” A poet who “abandoned the regular meter and rhyme patterns” of his contemporaries, Whitman was “influenced by the long cadences and rhetorical strategies of Biblical poetry.” Upon publishing Leaves of Grass , Whitman was subsequently fired from his job with the Department of the Interior. Despite his mixed critical reception in the ., he was favorably received in England, with Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Algernon Charles Swinburne among the British writers who celebrated his work.

During the Civil War, Whitman worked as a clerk in Washington, DC. For three years, he visited soldiers during his spare time, dressing wounds and giving solace to the injured. These experiences led to the poems in his 1865 publication, Drum-Taps , which includes, “ When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d ,” Whitman’s elegy for President Lincoln.

After suffering a serious stroke in 1873, Whitman moved to his brother’s home in Camden, New Jersey. While his poetry failed to garner popular attention from his American readership during his lifetime, over 1,000 people came to view his funeral. And as the first writer of a truly American poetry, Whitman’s legacy endures. According to The Longman Anthology of Poetry , Whitman’s “ambition, expansiveness, and embrace of all the high and low features of American life influenced many poets of the twentieth century, including . Lawrence, William Carlos Williams , Hart Crane , and Allen Ginsberg .”

You can read and inspect many of Whitman's books, letters, and manuscripts at the Walt Whitman Archive , a digital edition at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, directed by Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price. 

Other important figures in Elizabethan theatre include Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593), Thomas Dekker (c. 1572 – 1632), John Fletcher (1579–1625) and Francis Beaumont (1584–1616). Marlowe's subject matter is different from Shakespeare's as it focuses more on the moral drama of the renaissance man than any other thing. His play Doctor Faustus (c. 1592), is about a scientist and magician who sells his soul to the Devil. Beaumont and Fletcher are less-known, but they may have helped Shakespeare write some of his best dramas, and were popular at the time. Beaumont's comedy, The Knight of the Burning Pestle (1607), satirises the rising middle class and especially the nouveaux riches .

Tennyson lived through many important discoveries and developments in the fields of biology, astronomy, and geology. In 1830-33, Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology extended the history of the earth back millions of years and reduced the stature of the human race in time. Astronomers presented a map of the sky overwhelming in its vastness. Robert Chambers’s Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (1844) and Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859) made humans just another species within the animal kingdom. The new discoveries implied a view of humanity that much distressed many Victorians, including Tennyson. In Maud, for example, he describes the stars as “cold fires, yet with power to burn and brand / His nothingness into man”; unlike the Romantics, he possessed a painful awareness of the brutality and indifference of “Nature red in tooth and claw.” Although Tennyson associated evolution with progress, he also worried that the notion seemed to contradict the biblical story of creation and long-held assumptions about man’s place in the world. Nonetheless, in “In Memoriam,” he insists that we must keep our faith despite the latest discoveries of science: he writes, “Strong Son of God, immortal Love / Whom we, that have not seen they face, / By faith, and faith alone, embrace / Believing where we cannot prove.” At the end of the poem, he concludes that God’s eternal plan includes purposive biological development; thus he reassures his Victorian readers that the new science does not mean the end of the old faith. Tennyson thus provided the Victorians with a way of reconciling the new discoveries of science with their personal and religious convictions about man’s place and purpose.

The self-destructive qualities of bigotry are most vividly evoked in the one novel Baldwin wrote that contained no black characters. In Giovanni’s Room , when David falls in love with Giovanni, and they move in together, he feels alive, free, despite his sexual confusion and shame. When his fiancée Hella returns to Paris, he abruptly leaves Giovanni and renounces their love. “What kind of life can two men have together, anyway?” As he makes his shallow arguments, denying his own love, he feels himself becoming robotic, cruel, cold—not only to Giovanni but also to Hella. “All that had once delighted me seemed to have turned sour on my stomach,” he says. “I think that I have never been more frightened in my life…. Something was gone; the astonishment, the power, and the joy were gone, the peace was gone.”

Essay on british poet robert burns

essay on british poet robert burns

The self-destructive qualities of bigotry are most vividly evoked in the one novel Baldwin wrote that contained no black characters. In Giovanni’s Room , when David falls in love with Giovanni, and they move in together, he feels alive, free, despite his sexual confusion and shame. When his fiancée Hella returns to Paris, he abruptly leaves Giovanni and renounces their love. “What kind of life can two men have together, anyway?” As he makes his shallow arguments, denying his own love, he feels himself becoming robotic, cruel, cold—not only to Giovanni but also to Hella. “All that had once delighted me seemed to have turned sour on my stomach,” he says. “I think that I have never been more frightened in my life…. Something was gone; the astonishment, the power, and the joy were gone, the peace was gone.”

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