An Author's Assemblage: Brief Notes and Notices

The accumulation of posts to this web page serves merely as an author’s assemblage of brief notes and notices: the collection of informal bits of information, quotations, and observations gathered as one way to display a personal reflection of perceptions on poetry, publication, and related selections of material drawn from my perspectives as a poet or professor of literature and creative writing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Walt Whitman: Multiplicity of Speech in American Language and Literature

“Language, Whitman argued, must express the multiplicity of habits, heritages, and races that make up the American nationality: ‘The immense diversity of race, temperament, character—the copious streams of humanity constantly flowing hither—must reappear in free, rich growth of speech. From no one ethnic source is America sprung: the electric reciprocations of many sticks conspired and conspire. This opulence of race-elements is in the theory of America.’ Into the purity of New England English, Whitman introduced the ethnic and idiomatic color of American speech. His desire to keep language and literature open and responsive to the multiethnic sources of American nationality corresponded to his political desire to keep the country open to the immigrants who, after 1850, began coming to America in ever-increasing numbers.” —From Whitman: The Political Poet by Betsy Erkkila (Oxford University Press, 1989)

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