An Inexplicable Nature of the American Identity Essay

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In the early years of America’s foundation, a powerful air of uncapped potential, the desire for expansion and individual identification enamored the American people. Progress was inevitable as was cultural definition. But as time progressed, the feeling of unlimited strength, time and space transformed into something that, for better or worse, was no longer shared by later poets. Those of the “New World” came to realize that their world never really managed to leave behind the faults of the “Old.” Societal tension rose as different poets and authors struggled to pin down the direction of American culture and its ideals. When no solid idea was able to capture American culture adequately, the concept of an ever-evolving American identity …show more content…

On the one hand, Whitman demonstrates a consistent style of for rhythmic and measured motion, represented by an irresistible progression in the form of regular steps that show the advance of generations across centuries. The march of progress exemplifies Whitman’s belief in the perfectibility of a universe and the careful line that must be drawn between a hopeful utopian society and the measureable reality. As Whitman’s universe continues to expand into time and space, there is in fact, no limit to the “perpetual transfers and promotions” (Whitman, Song of Myself) of nature or human development. It is as Emerson proposes in his essay, Circles, “there is no outside, no enclosing wall, no circumference to us” (Emerson, Circles). It is significant that in Whitman's case moments of suspended reality do not open up a new dimension of space and time experience as in Emily Dickinson's poetry, but serve as stepping stones for the narrative-self or life force, ready to “troop forth, once more,” replenished and eager to resume the momentarily interrupted (Whitman, Leaves of Grass). In Emily Dickinson's poetry, the crucial transition point is found in the shifting of time periods such as the course of the sun at noon, the solstice in June, and even more generally, the conversion from being into non-being (or vice versa) as experienced in instances like spring.

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