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Transcendentalism: Walt Whitman as American Influence - Essay Example

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Transcendentalism: Walt Whitman as American Influence

In many ways, this type of philosophy encouraged individuals to feel as well as to think for themselves, to determine on their own what felt good and just, and to reject external impositions of fatalism and dogma (Meese, 1985). More specifically, transcendentalist literature espoused a higher spiritual reality, a reality which could be used to live our lives in this young experimental country called America differently and more vibrantly. Walt Whitman was one of the most articulate and creative American transcendentalist writers. His poem, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd", is illustrative of this higher spiritual state.
As a preliminary matter, this poem seeks to establish harmony between the individual and the natural environment; more specifically, Whitman removes the individual from the dogmas of religion and the competitive rigors of modern industrial life as it existed in his era. This spiritual setting, man communing with nature, is the essence of Whitman's transcendentalism. We transcend, in effect, the spiritual constraints imposed by rigid Puritan protocols and the sensual blinders imposed by the demands of competitive commerce. In the poem, Whitman declares
The main idea is that nature provides ...Show more

Summary

Breaks from the past, even deviations from conventional wisdom and dogma, are often characteristic of poetry later deemed to be seminal or profound. Although there are transcendentalist philosophies which can be traced to Immanuel Kant's German Idealism and the English Romanticism of writers such as Thomas Carlyle and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, this essay is concerned more particularly with American Transcendentalism.
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Transcendentalism: Walt Whitman as American Influence essay example
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