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Secular LyricThe Modernization of the Poem in Poe, Whitman, and Dickinson$
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John Michael

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780823279715

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823279715.001.0001

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Whitman’s Poetics and Death: The Poet, Metonymy, and the Crowd

Whitman’s Poetics and Death: The Poet, Metonymy, and the Crowd

(p.91) Chapter 3 Whitman’s Poetics and Death: The Poet, Metonymy, and the Crowd
Secular Lyric

John Michael

Fordham University Press

Where Poe focuses his poetics on tropes of comparison, Whitman depends almost completely on metonymy, the realistic trope of mere material contiguity. Metonymy in his famous catalogues figures both the distancing of his poetry from conventional meaning and the presence of the heterogeneity of the crowd of potential readers. These readers, who constitute the secularity of the age and figure in the poet’s challenge to death and his eroticization of the world, also constitute the possibility of his survival as a voiced presence and a dispersed voice in the future crowd he so often imagines.

Keywords:   death, futurity, materiality, metonymy, reception, secular, sex, verse, Whitman

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