2005 | VII | 63-76
Article title

In Search of a Modern Epic: on the Generic Status of Walt Whitman’s song of mysel

Title variants
Languages of publication
The aim of the article is to show the affinities of S ong o f M y self by Walt Whitman, an American Romantic poet, with the classical epic poem, on the basis of the theory of genre evolution propounded by such Polish scholars as Ireneusz Opacki, Michał Głowiński and Andrzej Zgorzelski. The first part discusses the status of S ong o f M y self as an epic poem as it is perceived by American literary historians. Then the extensive analysis of the poem’s elements and devices is conducted, pointing to their roots in the classical epic. However, the dominant tendency in the poem is the strategy of simultaneous evocation and subversion of the epic tradition. As a result, S ong o f M y self emerges as an innovative poem, a precursor to the later Modernist ‘long poems’, and serves as the link between the classical epic poem and the extended poetic works or sequences of the twentieth century. In the final analysis, the role of S ong o f M y self is seen to consist in harking back to the tradition of classical epics on the one hand, and in its radical modification, and thus it seems to launch a new poetic genre.
Physical description
  • Allegrezza W., P oliticizing the R ead er in the A m erican L yric-E pic: W alt W hitm an’s Leaves of Grass and P ablo N eru d a’s Canto General, http: / etd-1029103-145352/unrestricted/dis sertation.pdf, 09.11.2004.
  • Abrams M. H., O rientation o f C ritical Theories, in: T w entieth C entury L iterary Theory: A n Introductory A nthology, ed. by V. Lambropoulos and D. N. Miller, Albany 1987, State University of New York Press, pp. 3-31.
  • Di Yanni R., L iterature: R eading Poetry, Fiction, Dram a, and the E ssay New York 1990, McGraw-Hill.
  • Frye N., Anatomy of Criticism, Princeton 1973, Princeton University Press.
  • Głowiński M., Gatunki literackie, in: D zieło w obec odbiorcy. S zkice z kom unikacji literackiej, Krakówl998, Universitas.
  • Herman D., Textual You’ and Double D eixis in E dna O ’B rien ’s A Pagan Place,, 2004.09.02.
  • Keller L., The Tw entieth-Century L ong Poem , in: The Columbia History of American Poetry, ed. by Jay Parini, New York 1993, Columbia University Press, pp. 534—563.
  • Rroeber K., Wordsworth: the P erson a l E p ic, in: P ersp ectiv es on E p ic, ed. by F.H. Candelaria, Boston 1965, Allyn and Bacon, pp. 93-102.
  • Kubiak Z., Wstęp in: Iliada, Warszawa 1990, PIW.
  • McWilliams J., The E pic in the N ineteenth C entury, in: The C olum bia H istory of American Poetry, pp. 33-63.
  • Miller J., W alt W hitm an, New York 1962, Twayne Pubbshers.
  • Morawski К., Wstęp in: B oska K om edia, Wrocław 1986, Ossolineum.
  • Moores D.J., W edded in N atural M atrim ony: Cosm ic L ove in W ordsw orth an d W hitman, Renascence, Spring 2004, (http://www.findarticles.eom/p/articles/mi_qa3777/is_200404/ai_n9392581), April 2005.
  • Opacki I., K rzyżow anie się postaci gatunkow ych ja k o w yznacznik ew olucji p oezji, in: Problemy teorii literatury, seria 1, ed. by H. Markiewicz, Wrocław 1987, Ossolineum.
  • Pearce R. H., The C ontinuity o f A m erican Poetry, Princeton 1961, Princeton University Press.
  • Tillyard E.M.W, D ante, in: Perspectives on E pic, pp. 51—52.
  • Zgorzelski A., Is Science F iction a G enre o f F antastic Literature?,, 2004.05.02.
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.