(2/23) Anti-poetry, “Beauty” by Walt Whitman

People have created a society where ideas become habits that are hard to let go. The thoughts you create in your mind are only real if you believe it so. If one believes that something should only be “one” certain way and that person convinces others that he is right, then it becomes hard to prove that person otherwise. This relates very much with literature and writing. People assume the habit of believing that one book is better then the other or a piece of writing is more meaningful then the other. This makes it hard for changes to occur that can create  a better foundation for the original idea.

The writing of poetry is a great example of a habit many literature fans find hard to let go of. They believe that a poem can only be written with a certain amount of verses and should only have a certain amount of lines. This limits the capabilities of true creative writing, but what truly is “writing” when it’s all based on your own perception and the thoughts you develop. The term that is used to define the “rebel” quality of going against the standard ideology of how poetry should be written is called “anti-poetry”. Writers who don’t agree with the standard “rules” of poetry may step outside of the boundaries and create what they believe is a “poem”. Many well known people like Elizabeth Bishop, William Shakespeare, and Walt Whitman wrote their own interpretations of what a “poem” can be and introduced a new way of thinking that broke many of the old traditions.

Walt Whitman introduced his own idea of “anti-poetry” and wrote the poem “Beauty”. The structure of the poem was built in a way that was new to the reader’s eyes. The poem never separated the lines in sets like traditional poems but continued. And for every three lines, the fourth one would lean more to the right to signify the unimportant quality of the phrase. The poem, Beauty, showed what people thought “beauty” was and later revealed the true beautiful quality that hid behind the unreal perceived reality. An example of that is when Walt wrote, “Not the vaunted scenery of the tourist, picturesque…but the plain landscape, the bleak sea shore, or the barren plain”. This can be seen as Whitman trying to attack the values of adapted traditional culture, but I don’t believe the message was to create a negative reaction. Walt revealing that there was something more behind the names and differences of every country showed that he only wanted others to see the beauty that he saw behind the simple formations of dirt, plants, and the shapes the sea would make as the water waved hello to those in it’s view.

Would Whitman’s poem have revealed such beauty if it were written in traditional form? I don’t believe it would have. The true quality of writing and a person’s thoughts can only be fully seen if they are allowed to express them in their own way. Sometimes going against the “grain” is better then eating it.

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