Will You Travel With Me Walt Whitman

Elizabeth Discovering Walt and His Life

Elizabeth had been travelling around the world for three months, but it wasn’t until she arrived in the United States of America that she discovered Walt Whitman’s life. As she visited the different cities, she felt a strange connection to the great poet and philosopher, whose words had spoken to her since she was a child. Her curiosity inspired her to research his life story, discovering the remarkable points of influence he had on the US and beyond. She imagined what it would have been like to travel with Walt Whitman, to experience his work first-hand.

It was while Walt Whitman was growing up that he saw the development of the American nation and its people, emerging from the turmoil of a civil war. Born in 1819, his adolescent years were spent during the time of the discovery of the West and the United States’ eventual emergence as a powerful nation. By the time he had turned 20, he was an ardent follower of Democracy, believing in equality for everyone regardless of race, gender, or religion. This passion for justice and communal understanding would be reflected in all his work.

Elizabeth was fascinated by the passion Walt Whitman had for his country, his drive to better the lives of others, and his ambitious attempt to push for progressive changes. Whitman was deeply conscious of what was happening around him, and this was represented in how his works developed as he aged. From beginning his career as a journalist to becoming a poet and editor, he continuously provided new perspectives on the social and political structures of the world.

It was not just the power of Walt’s work that inspired Elizabeth – it was also his feeling of complete freedom. In his works, you can feel the independence of the creator, to do what he wants and to be the person he wishes to be. He wrote with a confidence that is rarely seen, and it was this self-control that made Whitman so iconic, allowing him to be truly himself.

Elizabeth was in awe of Whitman’s travels and accomplishments. He had crossed the United States many times in his lifetime – on a walk from New York to New Orleans, in the company of his companion Peter Doyle, and surviving numerous stagecoach journeys through the prairies, deserts and mountains. He had seen so much of the country, and it was clear he lived for adventure and the open road.

Seeing all this in Walt Whitman made Elizabeth imagine what it would have been like to travel with him. She wondered what he would have pointed out to her, what conversations they would have had, and what experiences they would have shared. He would have taken her to the places he loved the most, the landscapes which had helped to stir the creativity in him.

Exploring the Effects of Whitman’s Writings

If Elizabeth had the opportunity to travel with Walt Whitman, she would have seen the impact of his writings. While Whitman’s works found many readers during his lifetime, especially in the United States and England, it wasn’t until after his death in 1892 that some of the most well-known pieces were written.

The increasing popularity of his work was due to the rise of the industrial revolution which happened in the years after his death. With this technological advancement, came new ways of thinking and helped to provoke a conversation on the development of democracy and the power of speech. This is when more attention was brought to Whitman’s literature, especially his collection of poems, Leaves of Grass. This contained works such as ‘Song of Myself’ and ‘When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer’, pieces which spoke of understanding, remembrance, and the quest for freedom.

Inspired by his words, people around the world began to read his poems and further discuss the changing political landscapes and social boundaries that Whitman wrote about. This influenced several movements in the two centuries of its existence, from the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s to the feminist wave at the end of the nineteenth century.

Elizabeth was amazed by the continued relevance of his work to this day. Over 100 years after his death, many still regarded Walt Whitman as an individual who could speak of the concerns of humanity, from the mundane to those that were transcendental. His words were a reminder of the courage and determination of those who rise for their convictions and break the bounds of society.

Finding the Philosophical Place of Whitman

On her travels, Elizabeth had also been searching for a place to satisfy her philosophical curiosity and ambitions. She had heard of Walt Whitman and the movements he represented, so she yearned to find a place where she could continue this understanding. Though she had read many articles, books and even thoughts of his, she needed to find a place to experience that connection.

For Elizabeth, a final destination of her quest had to be Whitman’s birthplace of Long Island, New York. There, she visited the Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site, a museum and parlor constructed to commemorate the poet. Elizabeth admired how the venture described Whitman’s idyllic and youthful years, with his early life being embraced as the beginnings of his writings.

Also, Elizabeth was moved by the reconstruction of the poet’s house and the rural village of the early 19th century which surrounded the house. This place, she thought, had captured the essence of the poet – it represented the freedom that Whitman valued, and which he expressed in his works. Elizabeth feverishly read the books and materials available in the library, and was entranced by what she found.

This visit felt like a revelation to her, an inspiration to keep searching for an understanding of the grandiose concepts expressed by Walt Whitman. She went home, hopeful of discovering more of the spirit of the poet in her own work, and motivated to carry on her newfound crusade.

Grasping the Essence of Whitman’s Poetry

After returning home and starting to write herself, Elizabeth realised a deeper understanding of Walt Whitman’s works. More than ever before, her experience on her travels in the United States had granted her with a greater appreciation of his poetry.

The magnitude of his ideas regarding the human condition possessed such a power, she thought, that readers had to attempt to understand his serene words for themselves. In works such as ‘Song of Myself’, Whitman speaks of a speaker who attempts to “contain multitudes” and journey through the unknown. This is a journey Elizabeth could appreciate.

The freedom and independence with which he composed his works was especially impressive – it was clear his poems were written with the intention of expressions of self, and she related to this. His works seemed to be instilled with a type of liberation, whereby a writer is liberated from any moral divide and can freely express their innermost creativity.

Elizabeth felt that her essay and poetry attempts had enabled her to understand Whitman’s one-of-a-kind type of literature. This was drawn from his analysis of life and his understanding of human nature, and ultimately led Whitman to inspire her in her writing.

The Influences of Whitman on Elizabeth’s Writing

From her travels and intense readings, Elizabeth had recognised the influences Walt Whitman’s works had impressed upon her. On her original journey, she had gone in search of understanding, and although she had not encountered the poet himself, she was encouraged by the trail of words and feelings he left behind.

She began to write, responding to the same themes in her works – the struggle between time’s passage and timelessness, the expansive nature of the soul, and the continual search for freedom. As she wrote, she felt connected to Whitman and inspired by his courage and ambition as a poet.

Her works explored many aspects of the self and its relationships with the world, exposing her to an exploration of knowledge and experience. She was filled with a sense of determination, just as she had been when she had read the poetry of Whitman for the first time. The works of the poet had enabled her to gain the confidence to contemplate her own thoughts and express her innermost creativity.

This discovery was a defining moment for Elizabeth, who felt as if she was carrying on the same ambitions and spirits of Walt Whitman. Even without travelling with him, she had written her version of his powerful words, his understanding of life and humanity. She had taken control of her own journey, just as he had done, and experienced the elation of creative liberation.

The Comparative Themes Between Elizabeth and Whitman

Elizabeth had, while on her own journey, explored the same themes Walt Whitman had addressed in his stories and poems. During his life, Whitman had written of his own “vocal journey” and reached many conclusions along the way. He wrote of the human experience of time, of the current civil war and of the importance of understanding the ideas of nature and human emotion.

These themes were echoed in the works of Elizabeth. She was inspired to write of the power of nature, of how one can journey through and beyond their own limitations, of how their souls are connected, and of how love can heal any wound. One could sense something similar in her works to that of Whitman’s, and it was clear he had been a source of solace for her.

Elizabeth was also provoked by Whitman’s sense of confidence in his works. It was obvious to her that the poet had taken control of his own life and was fearlessly living it to its fullest. Whether through his journeys in the United States or through his writings, his strength and self-guidance was visible. He had inspired countless others to take the same path.

She felt the same feeling when she approached her writing, allowing the liberation of Walt Whitman’s ideas to take effect. Her works were a direct result of her conversations with the poet during her travels, and she now felt a strong bond with the core of his works.

The Lasting Connections of Whitman and Elizabeth

In this unique way, Walt Whitman and Elizabeth had bridged a connection between their lives. They had taken advantage of their individual possibilities and shared their perspectives on the world, coming to similar conclusions and providing an understanding of what is real. This mutual understanding had allowed them to build a lasting bond.

Though Elizabeth had never met him, all the details of Whitman’s life had enabled her to travel with him in her writing. During her journey, she had immersed herself in the spirit and power of his works, and was inspired to take the same routes of exploration as the great poet. This connection enabled her to take Whitman’s wisdom into her own life and embody it in her own works.

The strong feeling of companionship Elizabeth had in her travels with Whitman, even symbolically, gave her an appreciation of the power of his poetic spirit and the expression of it. Through this, she had realised the possibility of effortless creativity, a platform of free expression which also had the power to influence people around the world. This undeniable influence and connection to Walt Whitman illustrated to Elizabeth the importance of traveling, of acquiring knowledge, and of allowing creativity to arise.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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