Dear Mr. Whitman,
Hi, Mr. Whitman, how are you doing? I am a student from 21st century. I don’t know if you can believe this, but the current generation has changed noticeably to the world you are living in. In our English class, we are focusing on different literature in Romantic era. At the present time we are working on what Romanticism might be by looking at various Romantic poets and relate their pieces of poetry to Romanticism, the Naturalism. It is a fortunate that we are given such a chance to read through your writings and I have to say the poetry you wrote has impressed me. I cannot deny that.
As a reader in 21st century, the idea of Romanticism is the topic that I am not quite familiar with. Unlike the notion of Romanticism, numerous people in this generation including myself are living a busy life. These two are contrary to each other. New technology is improving to make better products for saving our time. People are living busy life; we spend our time on working, on meeting friends, but not so much time on observing green grass and consider about what the life is all about, whereas people in Romantic era, practiced the basic Romantic themes. Very few of us are rejecting the technology and modernized society, and living as simple as possible. I admit that living a ‘hurried’ life is tragic, but this is the reality. Or maybe due to the sudden development in our technology, it is just not able to be within the nature. This may be the reason why I prefer literature in Romanticism; it is possible for me to relax while I read them.
In ‘The Song of Myself’, which I particularly admired, I find the quotation pretty interesting: “I loafe and invite my Soul, I lean and loafe at my ease, observing a spear of summer grass.” This quotation has forced me to think about the term ‘Soul’, which I felt comforts in it. It gave me the impression of the soul not as supernatural exists, but in terms of the exits that we are absolutely familiar with.
Furthermore, in one of your poems, I noticed that the term ‘I’ is used for quite many times. Also I have realized that ‘I’ is not individual ‘I’, but ‘I’ as universal ‘I’. However I thought in that era, lots of poets have believed in individualism, I don’t really see why you used ‘I’ to refer to universal ‘I’.
Majority excerpts from ‘Leaves of Grass’ are about the way to live a life, yet several of them is dealing with life and death. Since the title of your poetry book is named ‘Leaves of Grass’, I begin to wonder how the blades of grass has got to do with your poetry. Not so much time passed after that moment, I could come out with an idea of life cycle. The idea of life cycle as green grasses represents youth and as they turn into brownish color, they suggest the older age and weakness of human beings. Then the ‘death’ follows. It would be a pleasure if I can understand the reasoning why you liked using grass in your poetry and how the blades of grass refer to your emotions.
While learning some Romantic poets, I noticed most of them have experienced misery in their childhoods, and they have influenced hugely on their later works. Here is my second question, ‘Is there any experience in your childhood that has affected your previous poetry?’
It was great experience to know about you and your poetry. I really appreciate for your time to read my letter. Thank you for writing such great poems that have told us lots of things.
With best regards,
11 May 2012