A Comparative Essay Example on Modernist and Romantic Eras

Published: 2022-07-04
A Comparative Essay Example on Modernist and Romantic Eras
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories: Walt Whitman
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1442 words
13 min read

Modernist and Romantic eras are the two periods where literary works made a sudden change from a traditional view where writing was plain to a modern way where people could discuss issues in a more encroached manner. The song Sunday Morning by Stevens, Wallace wrote is a modernist era song that exhaustively explores divinity and the ultimate cost of death on human life. On the other hand, Whitman's Song of Myself is a romantic era poem that also explores life from a spiritual angle where some supernatural powers have such an instrumental effect on human life. Whitman's poetry is however inclined to creating hope and giving life a taste where faith is seen to live beyond death. Love and hope is the main theme that is discussed in his poem where the author insinuates that beyond death, hope and love are carried by the next generation. Wallace's work, however, concentrates in personal contentment even when in despair. Though Whitman's and Wallace's works arguably create hope in divinity, Wallace's work creates more hope since it concentrates in life in heaven while Whitman dwells most in divinity from an earthy angle.

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The modernist and romantic eras are two eras where divinity has such an impact on literary works. Most of these works dwell on divinity with a view that human life is not centered on the human being. Instead, it is commanded by a supreme power that influences the presence of humans, the way they do things and even their private lives. Whitman observes his life and believes that there is more to life beyond death. Life after death is an aspect of divinity that he so much believes in as he says, "Hoping to cease not till death" (Whitman 1). From the excerpt, Whitman believes that his life ends in death. Before death, he believes that this supreme power will guide his steps and protect him until he dies.

In his work, Whitman makes an instrumental view of divinity from an earthly angle and avoids talking about the heavens. His work was created at a time when there was a growing regard for religion. It had however not gotten to a point where people accepted divinity as much since it was in its entry stages. He, however, has the hope that things on earth will get better and life is going to be smooth amidst the suffering. In the second stanza of his poem, Whitman writes, "You shall possess the good of the earth and the sun. You shall never take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead" (Whitman 2). Whitman, therefore, does not believe that divinity is impactful in death. He only thinks that the divine power can just help humans while they exist on the face of the earth. His work, therefore, seeks to engage the human mind in a manner that they believe that the prosperity that can be accorded to them by the divine power is only that which is found under the sun.

Rather than believing that life progresses in another world after death, Whitman insinuates that life progresses from one generation to the other. Amidst some contradicting statements, the author insinuates that life is passed on from the older generation to the younger generation in a manner that is only understood by the divine power alone. Instead of talking of the heavens which is considered as an eternal destination for every dead man, Whitman believes that a cycle of life is continued by the divine power such that once people die, others are born in their stead. Whitman reaffirms this thought where he says, "The smallest sprout shows there is not really death, and if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it" (Whitman 6). From the excerpt, the author insinuates that life is not arrested in the death. Instead, life sprouts again just like a plant sprouts again once it is dead. His work, therefore, rules out any existence or belief in heavens. It instead insinuates that divinity only brings new lives after the old ones are dead.

Wallace's work, on the other hand, takes a different path from that which Whitman's work makes. Wallace believes that there are vivid reasons to believe in divinity and hope to spend life after death in heaven. Wallace names his poem Sunday Morning which is an insinuation of his utmost regard for the day of worship which is held with crucial importance in the Christian world. The Christian society is one where matters of life after are so much believed in. Divinity and the power of God are not just about considering life on the planet. Wallace considers divinity as the extension of the love of God to the point that he wants to live with humans in the heavens at the end of life. He talks of the dead crossing their way into the heavens as he says, "Seems things in some procession of the dead, winding across wide water without sound" (Wallace 10) The extract shows how Wallace views the journey of the dead as they sojourn on to heaven where he believes that they are meant to spend their eternities.

To confirm his belief about divinity and eternity, Wallace insinuates that there is no rest for a man as far as they are on earth. He believes that there is no rest on earth given the many sufferings that humans pass through on earth. According to the writer, human life is a cycle of suppressing issues. It is one that is full of loneliness and where life is gloomy, subdued by sickly emotions and there are very few chances for survival. Wallace believes that even when humans think in life after death, they still suffer while they are on earth. However, every man works towards a higher goal when they believe in a divine power. It is the power that is silent in their dreams, yet it is unspoken. He, however, gives humans hope that life in heaven is better when he says, "Shall she not find in comforts of the sun, in pungent fruit and bright green wings or else, any beauty to be cherished like the thought of heaven" (Wallace 20)

In a rather odd way, Wallace believes that there is a need for humans to believe in divinity differently as opposed to the manner that people have always held it. He thinks that time has come when humans should not only rely on deity in the fulfillment of their dreams. He believes that it would be odd for a human being to be contented by the life that they live on earth (Wallace 32). Using the beautiful character, Wallace shows that there is so much that the human mind wonders about even though they behave as if they are contented with the way they live.

Wallace states that life is not an imperishable bliss. In the very end, the fulfillment of dreams is not everything man deserves. At the end of life, the bliss will fade in death. The path of sorrow and sickness is the ultimate destiny of every man. He, however, says that there is a whisper of tenderness when a man believes in the divinity of life after death. He states that death is the mother of mystical beauty that people shall enjoy (Wallace 73). He recalls a place where people shall be united with their loved ones such as their dead mothers in a place where happiness shall never cease. Wallace, therefore, creates hope in the beauty of life after death creating faith in divinity in a pervasive manner.

In conclusion, the modernist and the romantic eras dwelled in divinity where there were divergent views regarding the divine power. Whitman's poem Song of Myself and Wallace's Sunday Morning are two artistic works that created an impression of divinity and its expansive view. While Whitman concentrates on showing deity as only existent on the earth where people can just enjoy the blessings of the divine power, Wallace has a more critical view of the divine power. He takes on the divine power as one that promises humans of a different and more conducive life, unlike the life that is lived on earth. He states that heaven is the ultimate destination of every man regardless of their sufferings or fulfillment on earth. Wallace, therefore, creates a more convincing view of the divine power and life after death which makes it more appealing to a rational mind than Whitman does.

Works Cited

Stevens, Wallace. "Sunday morning." (1914).

Whitman, Walt. Song of myself. Courier Corporation, (1892).

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