Whitman and Transcendentalism

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Whitman's Contributions to Transcendentalism Transcendentalism was a group of ideas in literature, religion, culture, and philosophy that developed in the 1830s in the United States as a protest against the general state of culture and society (“Transcendentalism - New World Encyclopedia”). Ralph Waldo Emerson was considered to be one of the widest known Transcendental authors (McNamara). Emerson wrote an essay titled "The Poet" in which he asks for a "new voice"; a gentleman named Walt Whitman did everything he could to try to be this voice. Walt Whitman wrote a poem title "Song of Myself" in which he portrayed many of the nature-related traits of a transcendental writer. Transcendentalists believed that a relationship between man and nature, and that the heightened awareness of this relationship would cause a "reformation" of society away from materialism and corruption (“The Movement and Its Characteristics”). “All our progress is an unfolding, like the vegetable bud. You have first an instinct, then an opinion, then a knowledge, as the plant has root, bud, and fruit. Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason," in this quote, Emerson compares mankind's progress to the growing of a plant, thus showing the relationship and connection Transcendentalists believed humans had with nature (“Intellect”). Transcendentalists also believed that nature was divine, that it held the truths of life within it, and that is was the innocent escape from all evils of society (“The Movement and Its Characteristics”). “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail,” in this quote, Emerson is saying not to follow where others go but to do something on your own as an individual, or be alone in nature versus in society where everyone else is (Future Edge Publications). Walt Whitman proves to be a transcendentalist by
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