Ans. Whitman wrote about America, its people, and its landscape in expansive free-verse form. He established a uniquely American voice in poetry, entirely separate from the Anglophile-inspired reverence for English poetic styles and forms. Whitman's open-armed, free-verse celebrations of America's vastness of resources, opportunities, people, and possibilities, is distinctly American verse.
(ii) What, in Whitman's view, is the function of poetry?
Ans. Whitman, like Poe and Coleridge, is mystic and transcendental in his theory of poetry. Unlike them, he is an arch-rebel in poetic practice. Under the influence of the Romantic movement in literature and art, Whitman held the theory that the chief function of the poet was to express his own personality in his verse. Whitman often casts himself as the main character in his poems.
(iii) Describe Whitman's conception of the soul and the body.
Ans. The soul and the body are inextricably linked for Whitman. While the soul is the ultimate repository of the self, and the connection between souls is the highest order of relating, the body is the vessel that allows the soul to experience the world. Therefore the body is just as important.
(iv) What kinds of structures does Whitman use in his poetry?
Ans. Two of the most important structures in Whitman's poetry are the list and the anecdote. He avoids structures like rhyme because he wants to show that his is a truly American poetry, one that is fresh and new, and not indebted to previous poets from other countries.
(v) What kind of vocabulary does Whitman use in his poetry?
Ans. Whitman's vocabulary borrows from these disciplines; anatomy, astronomy, carpentry and construction, military and war terms, nautical terms and terms related to the sea, business and professions, flora and fauna of America.
(vi) What are major themes in Whitman's poetry?
Ans. Democracy as a way of life, the cycle of growth and death, the beauty of the individual, democratic nature of poetry, the body and soul, the natural world, war, and eroticism are the major themes of Whitman's poetry.
(vii) What do plants symbolize in Whitman's poetry?
Ans. Throughout Whitman's poetry, plant life symbolize both growth and multiplicity. Rapid, regular plant growth also stands in for the rapid, regular expansion of the population of the United States.
(viii) What is the theme of 'There was a Child Went Forth'?
Ans. This poem expresses the poet's identification of his consciousness with all objects and forms, and the list of things which he himself identifies with is large and comprehensive and is a good example of Whitman's catalogs. The continual process of becoming is at the heart of the poem.
(ix) What is the theme of 'I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing'?
Ans. Even though we may have people in our lives, they can always be taken away. Physical love is as elementary as the oak tree itself, but its luxuriant growth is an organic metaphor for the development of manly love in the region of the spirit.
(x) What are the major themes of 'One's-Self I Sing'?
Ans. The poem delves into the themes of the self, the all-encompassing "I", sexuality, democracy, the human body, and what it means to live in the modern world.
(xi) What is the theme of 'Poets to Come'?
Ans. Whitman's consciousness of the inadequacy of language to express the full extent of his thought is revealed in this poem. His expectation that the future poets will interpret his work for posterity clearly shows that he views the poet as a seer and a builder of the bridge spanning time.
(xii) What is the theme of 'O Captain! My Captain!'?
Ans. The primary theme of the poem is masculine love; the speaker loves his captain as his own father. Other themes are admiration, patriotism and suffering.
(xiii) What is the theme of 'To a Stranger'?
Ans. The speaker uses this poem as a silent address to a stranger passing by him on the street. The relationship between body and soul is the major theme of the poem. Whitman also invokes the theme of democratic self by leaving the stranger's gender indeterminate.
(xiv) What is the theme of 'Shut Not Your Doors'?
Ans. In this poem, Whitman is by far identifying himself as a writer of writers. He puts himself on a soap box and pats himself on the back. This poem is a good way to express a writer's feelings about his own writings.
(xv) What is the theme of 'The Carols'?
Ans. In this poem the speaker describes various "carols" that arise from different figures in the American working class as people go about their work. The theme of the poem is individuality, productivity and happiness in one's station in life. The poem also exemplifies the theme of musicality in Whitman's poetry.