Emily Dickinson's Collected Poems

Desire and Fulfillment: Emily Dickinson vs. Walt Whitman College

American poets Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman are best known for their confessional works, in which they express their inner desires and urges. Both poets reflect their own unique qualities through choice of style, form, and language, as they discuss their feelings of sexual dissatisfaction and longing. Dickinson and Whitman stand on opposite ends of the poetic spectrum in terms of their expression of desire, which is clearly reflected in Dickinson’s “Wild Nights—Wild Nights!” and Whitman’s eleventh section of “Song of Myself.” Each poem addresses a different model of desire, contains different language and structure, and describes different ways in which desires are fulfilled. While both poems may appear quite distinct from one another, there is one steady similarity to consider. In the two poems, Dickinson and Whitman coalesce through their expressions of separation and expulsion from one’s somatic desires.

Emily Dickinson’s “Wild Nights—Wild Nights!” is commonly known as her most erotic poem. The title of the poem itself signifies a sense of mental and sexual release as the word “wild” is often affiliated with untamed freedom and a loss of self-control, and “night” is known as a time of darkness and secrecy as the...

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