Urban Scenarios in Walt Whitman's Poetry

Marla Do Vale Satorno


One of the most striking features in 19th century poetry is the scenes of astonishing industrial progress, the development of the cities, the people who rush around, either working or just living their lives. Such urban scenarios are constant images in poems of this period. American poet Walt Whitman is also one of the poets who conveys urban movement through his poetry. With these characteristics as a starting point, the purpose of this article is to focus on the urban images in Whitman’s poetry, analyzing the poetry of the cities. Closely linked to Baudelaire’s flâneur, Whitman also observes city life from a contemplative point of view. In poems like City of Ships, I Hear America Singing, Crossing the Brooklyn Ferry, among others, Whitman sings of city life, its constant movement, its people and its landscapes. Focusing on the poet’s observation of urban life in the nineteenth century, this article also intends to make a link between the 19th Century idea of modernity and Whitman’s poems. A small selection of poems from Leaves of Grass which highlights these characteristics was chosen to be the focus of this analysis.


Whitman; Poetry; City; Modernity

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BABEL: Revista Eletrônica de Línguas e Literaturas Estrangeiras - ISSN 2238-5754 | Departamento de Educação DEDC II - Universidade do Estado da Bahia