Dear Mister Walt Whitman January 29th, 1799
I have recently read your poem Songs of myself and I felt like I needed to write you a letter about it, because this poem really gave me a lot of opinions I want to share with you.
You are dragging things way too far Walt Whitman! When I write poetry I do not write like this. For example, in my book that I recently published with William Wordsworth, William and myself do write about things like nature, passion and equality. But it is a disgrace how you put dirt all over the modern poets’ name like this! For instance, when you write in the first part of Songs of myself, “I will go to the bank by the wood and get undisguised and naked.” First of all, this is highly inappropriate! You do not write these kinds of things in poetry that is for everybody to read. Second of all, you are a big name in modern literature. Think of the massive influence you can have on people. What if this becomes the new trend? Running out to the forest, getting naked! You could start a whole new movement of nudism, and I think most people would agree with me when I say we don’t want that to happen in our society.
Moreover, I would like to comment on the way you are talking about and describing death in your poem, and make it clear that I strongly disagree. While I do respect your opinion, I want to say that I think it is very unrealistic and naive that death can be a good thing! You are talking about disappearing forever, stopping to breathe and never seeing the ones you love ever again! Will you please explain to me how that can possibly be a good thing
Furthermore, I want to give you a friendly suggestion and complement you because I do feel like I have been very critical towards you, and I apologize. I just really felt the need to express my thoughts to you. Well, my suggestion to you is to include some more supernatural elements in your poetry. It attracts readers! Additionally, it is good to be open, but not too open about things. There is a line, learn where it is, because you have crossed it. Finally, I want to complement you on the way you talk about equality, it really inspired me. Especially the part where you say; “For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you.”
Good luck on your future career as a poet,
Samuel Taylor Coleridge