Poetic techniques of Whitman concerning Song of Myself


Walt Whitman is the shining star in 19th-century American Literature. He breaks down the existing English and French writing traditions and innovates new writing techniques in writing poetry. Verification or Use of Blank verse, American dream, representation of Democracy, images, and symbols are unique and different from others.  

More Notes: Walt Whitman

 Use of blank verse:

Whitman has not followed the poetic conventions and traditions and techniques. His greatest contribution to the growth of American poetry is his total change of the existing poetic form and his use of free verse since he deals with a modern man with a fresh outlook on life. He has also discarded rhyme and meter which are two traditional elements of poetic style. Later of him in the modern period, the use of blank verse in poetry has become a fashion in poetry writing including by T. S. Eliot.  

The most obvious stylistic trait of Whitman’s poetry is the long line, written in free verse. Whitman abandons, almost completely, the metrical tradition of accentual syllabic verse and embraces instead the prosody of the English Bible.  

Poetic device:

This literary device, which appears in biblical verses as well as the works of Walt Whitman, can be used to build up tension or energy in rhetoric, poetry, and prose.  

celebration of the individual: 

The central epic theme of Walt Whitman’s long poem “Song of Myself” is the celebration of the individual as expressed uniquely within the emerging, optimistic character of America itself.   

Representation of democracy:

Democracy is the most influential tendency in literature and Whitman has presented as a strong advocate of American democracy. He tries to encompass the whole of America. He finds his subjects among all sorts and conditions and catalogs symbolize the equalizing process of Democracy. His conception of equality and democracy gives every individual an exult status. Whitman asserts though there have been a lot of pitfalls in the way democracy is, it will ultimately win the victory.  

“For you these form me, O Democracy, to serve you, me femme”. 

More Notes: Suggestions

Enriched symbols: 

The use of the images and symbols by Whitman is enriched due to the dramatic element in his poetry. The “I” and “You” in his poems introduce the dramatic element. Whitman is peculiar which is why he does not present his images and pictures before his readers in any logical order. He says:  

I name everything as it comes 

This quotation is also a fantastic example of the stream of consciousness that is applied by Whitman before the inauguration of this very literary device.  

Whitman’s use of imagery

Whitman’s use of imagery shows his imaginative power, the depth of his sensory perceptions, and his capacity to capture reality instantaneously. He expresses his impressions of the world in a language that mirrors the present. He makes the past come alive in his images and makes the future seem immediate.   

Poetic medium: 

Whitman is totally different in terms of his poetic medium from the other writers. If we consider him from the viewpoint of syntax, we find him as the poet of the phrase. A complete sentence is not important to him. Modern poets follow the syntax of Whitman.   

The introducer of the American Dream: 

Whitman introduced to literature the idea of the “American Dream” and highlighted how important it was for the American people to develop their own identity. Consequently, he rejected the European writing styles and adapted the use of free-verses to his writing, making it a popular writing style in American poetry.  

Evaluation of the critics:

Critic after critic has paid tribute to Walt Whitman as the pioneer of modern American poetry. However, the best tribute is ever paid by D.H. Lawrence who remarks,  

Whitman, the one man breaking wave ahead. Whitman, the one pioneer. And only Whitman. No English pioneers, no French. No European pioneer-poets. 


Walt Whitman enriched American poetry with his unique poetic techniques. His poetic techniques are now cultivated and followed by modern poets all over the world. His contribution to American poetry is very significant. That is why Whitman is considered to be the Father of Modern American Poetry.  

Rashedul Islam
Rashedul Islam

Hi, This is Rashedul. Researcher and lecturer of English literature and Linguistics.

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