Dickinson Whitman Essay

Dickinson Whitman Essay-57
Between 600,000 and 700,00 soldiers died during the Civil War.If you project that number onto the current population of the United States it would be something like six to seven million casualties. The infrastructure of our society during the Civil War could not handle the carnage. One in three or four Confederate soldiers died in the war, and one in nine or ten Union soldiers died.Her poems have appeared in Pleiades, Narrative Magazine, Sycamore Review, and other publications in print and online.

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After the battle of Gettysburg, residents carried bottles of peppermint oil to help alleviate the stench of the corpses of men and horses rotting in the July heat.

The realities of daily life during the Civil War and its aftermath are hard to imagine, yet somehow easy to overlook when approaching literature from that era.

There was no system in place to identify the dead: there were no dog tags.

Undertakers followed the troops, and while officers were often sent home in caskets, soldiers who lost their lives were interred beneath hasty markings in makeshift cemeteries near to where they fell.

Of course, if their work were only specific to their historical climate, it would not have resonated beyond its time and place, and ultimately helped to shape the voices of American poetry. Whether or not Dickinson largely internalized the war and used it as a metaphor for her own conflicts or wrote explicitly about it seems less important than acknowledging the larger context for the originality of her voice.

Whitman was already a well-known writer, an anti-slavery, pro-Union journalist, at the outset of the war. Dickinson’s work seems mostly concerned with how we might internalize war.

But they both shared a common interest in the big questions: life and death, life after death, religion and spirituality, spirituality without religion, the nature of the self and the nature of reality, sex and gender, race and class, power and powerlessness.

They wrote about life in the United States before, during, and after the cataclysm of Civil War, and they wrote about the human condition in ways that have influenced poets, artists, activists, and mystics across the globe.


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