“Beauty” by Walt Whitman: Anti-poetry

Beauty by Walt Whitman is a good example of anti-poetry.  Normally a poem is cheerful and paints a nice picture, however Whitman uses imagery by comparing nice events to something much more depressing line by line. “Not the soldiers trim in handsome uniforms marching off to sprightly music with measured step” this line depicts happy soldiers marching off to something (most likely a dance or they are happy to go to war which I doubt). The following line “But the remnant returning thinned out”, Whitman paints the image of soldiers returning home exhausted from  battle even losing many comrades which negates the positive image one expects in a poem. This poem is a good example of anti-poetry because it talks about one thing while meaning the other. All the line that starts with not describes something beautiful while all the lines starting with but paints a dark picture. I believe this poem is about times of war and how ugly things get during that time. For example line 9 “Not the vaunted scenery of the tourist, picturesque” and line 10 “But the plain landscape, the bleak sea shore, or the barren plain, with the common sky & sun, – or at night the moon & stars.” Line 9 represents a time of peace where you expect to see tourist and people having fun while line 10 shows a place where people are depressed and scared. (Normally to see the stars at night in any neighborhood there needs to be limited amounts of lights on, so I assume the people are locked in their homes and not using lights to draw attention to themselves.)


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