Commentary

Selected Criticism

Title:
Warren, Samuel (1807–1877)
Author:
Cooper, Stephen A.
Print source:
J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, eds., Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), reproduced by permission.

Samuel Warren, poet and author of Ten Thousand a Year (1840–1841), was born 23 May 1807, at the Rackery, near Wrexham. His father, a Wesleyan minister, formed the Wesleyan Methodist Association, or "Warrenites," which later became the United Methodist Free Churches. The younger Warren, eldest son of Dr. Samuel Warren, studied medicine at Edinburgh (1826–1827), where he won a prize for poetry in 1827. Thus began Warren's career in creative literature, intermittent at times with a career in law, which finally culminated in The Lily and the Bee: An Apologue of the Crystal Palace (1851).

This prose-poetry work bears some rather curious similarities to Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Whitman's contemporaries commonly believed Warren to be an influence, and speculation among scholars continues even at present. Allen, Reynolds, Zweig, and Carpenter all notice similarities such as parallelism, apostrophe, declamation, and sweep between the authors. Carpenter, however, posits that a closer examination of these will dispel any notions of similarities, stating in addition that Whitman had found his "new style" by March 1851 (42).

Bibliography

Allen, Gay Wilson. Walt Whitman Handbook. 1946. New York: Hendricks House, 1962.

Carpenter, George Rice. Walt Whitman. New York: Macmillan, 1909.

Reynolds, David S. Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography. New York: Knopf, 1995.

Zweig, Paul. Walt Whitman: The Making of the Poet. New York: Basic Books, 1984.


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