Song of Myself by Walt Whitman, first published in 1855, in its later edition of 1867 has 52 sections composed of 1347 lines.
The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot was published in 1922 with the support of Ezra Pound and is considered to be one of the best works of modernist literature. The wasteland composes of five sections with 434 lines of poetry. These five sections are completely different from each other in terms of location and time but incorporate a vast knowledge of literature.
Even though Eliot was a modernist and has written poems on those lines, his work is similar to Whitman in terms of portraying reality in his works. The difference between the two is the format or lines on which they both wrote. While Eliot writes on modernist themes, shaking up the readers by making them to think through the induction of harsh realities of life, Whitman “uses symbols and sly commentary to get at important issues”(Martin). Whitman has taken an easy and simple approach to communicate his concerns about the way of life.
The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock was published in 1915, one of the earliest works of Eliot. It is “an examination of the tortured psyche of the prototypical modern man-overeducated, eloquent, neurotic, and emotionally stilted”(Martin). Eliot again has shifted the location and physical settings quite imaginatively.
In Song of Myself, Whitman tries to communicate that though a person is a part of the universe and has certain duties to perform, a person is an individual as well, having his own set of principles and value. While Whitman is accepting that humans do have a part to play in the world, Eliot in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock communicates that there is no sympathetic ear in this world and it is better to reflect in silence and isolation. Here, Whitman has taken an overall aspect of the notion whereas Eliot has focused on an individual factor. Whitman has tried to make peace with the universe whereas Eliot has claimed that universe intrudes in our lives as portrayed in the last line of the poem, ‘Till human voices wake us, and we drown’.
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