Visionary Poetry With Special Reference To Walt Whitman Ph D
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- American Poetry- Visionary Poetry - poetry and prophecy - Romantic poetry - Walt Whitman - American Literature - English Literature - Ahmed Gad - Ahmed Mohamad - أحمد جاد
The study deals with the different aspects and senses of “visionary poetry.” Besides the themes and issues raised by visionary poets and the devices, tactics, and techniques they use, the study traces the evolution of the term through different literary ages. Beginning with Blake and the other Romantic poets, the study goes on to discuss the modifications the concept of visionary poetry received at the hands of Walt Whitman.
The term ‘visionary poetry’ is one of the controversial terms. Critics offer different definitions of the term and they often confuse it with other terms such as ‘millennial,’ ‘prophetic,’ ‘mystical,’ and ‘apocalyptic.’ However, critics agree that Blake is the prototypical visionary poet and that all visionary poets try to gain insight into transcendent knowledge by non-intellectual methods.
The main problem with the term is critics’ fascination with Blake’s model of a visionary poet. Allured by Blake’s greatness, many critics tend to apply his conception of ‘visionary poetry’ to any poem or poet they believe to be visionary. Having this conception in mind, they rule out Whitman’s early poems as not visionary simply because they rest more on literal seeing than on free imagination, despite the fact that these poems manage to discover or uncover facts and values not easily discovered by us with our usual habits of perception.
The study shows that visionary poets may have different epistemologies and may resort to different strategies to achieve their shared goal. This explains the varied senses of the visionary we may have. By comparing the work of Blake and Whitman the study tries to show the insufficiency of conventional definitions of visionary poetry in discussion of Whitman’s poetry and to reveal the modifications Whitman made to the conception of visionary writing. The comparison between Blake and Whitman also reveals many points of affinity which can be regarded as the common features of visionary poetry in general.
The first chapter deals with the Romantic concept of visionary poetry, especially that of William Blake. In treating Blake’s conception of visionary poetry and his epistemological stance, I point out some of his visionary themes, issues, tactics and techniques. These may serve as a standard to measure Whitman’s advancement of the visionary poetry and the contributions he made.
The second chapter treats Whitman’s epistemology, his conceptions of visionary poetry, ‘seership,’ and the process of perception. This chapter focuses on the methods Whitman used to attain vision. His philosophy and his relation to certain philosophers, poets, and thinkers are taken into consideration only as far as they help illuminate his role as a visionary poet. By analysis of some of Whitman’s long poems I try to abstract the main characteristics of his visionary poetry and to show that the differences between Blake and Whitman are not a matter of period styles but the result of different methods of attaining the vision as well as different views concerning nature, the senses and reality.
Chapter three treats the thematic implications of Whitman’s conception of visionary poetry. Consistent with his conception, Whitman persistently explored the relationship of the perceived and the perceiver, the self and the other, body and soul. He celebrates many values such as eternity, cosmic order and progress. He also considers questions of death, suffering, evil and doubt. All these themes relate to and emanate from Whitman’s conception of visionary poetry.
In chapter four formal and structural aspects in Whitman’s visionary poetry are discussed to reveal how the poet’s mission as a visionary seer influences the structural and technical aspects of his work. The innovations he made in literary form and technique can be seen as the correlatives of his new methods of knowing. This shows Whitman’s contribution to the tradition of visionary poetry on the formal level.
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