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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Paton and Whitman: exploring a relationship
Author:Gardner, ColinISNI
Year:2010
Periodical:The English Academy Review (ISSN 1753-5360)
Volume:27
Issue:2
Pages:23-29
Language:English
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:writers
poetry
About persons:Alan Stewart Paton (1903-1988)ISNI
Walter Whitman (1819-1892)ISNI
Link:https://doi.org/10.1080/10131752.2010.514982
Abstract:It is clear that the poems that Alan Paton wrote after the success of 'Cry, the beloved country' (1948, London) were influenced by the 19th-century American poet Walt Whitman, but Paton has said almost nothing in his autobiographies or his letters about the exact nature of this influence. This article explores the relationship between Paton and Whitman, assessing the ways in which Paton is likely to have been inspired and liberated by Whitman's work. Whitman was the founder of free verse in English, and from 1948 onwards almost all Paton's important poems were written in free verse. Paton seems also to have been influenced by Whitman's bold independence of spirit and by his way of writing lyrically on weighty social and moral themes. Whitman was, then, the midwife to Paton's mature poetic muse. But Paton was no mere imitator. By quoting and discussing some examples of his work, the article examines the ways in which Paton's later poetry developed. His lines are less sprawling, more compact than Whitman's, and the imaginative and emotional climaxes in his work are more direct, indeed more dramatic. Bibliogr., sum. [Journal abstract]
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