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Two of Americas poets that speak of gender in controversial ways are Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson The work of these poets undoubtedly stands out from other poets because they challenged conventional gender roles of their time For the 1800s their poetry was democratic in both its content and its language Walt Whitman introduced new and forbidden ideas about homosexuality in his Calamus poems while Emily Dickinson challenged the conventional role of a wife By doing this they spoke the unspoken and violated the social and ethical norms of society These poets express their frustration towards the limitations of their traditional gender role through their poetry This is an aspect of their poetry that once was ridiculed by society but is greatly admired today Walt Whitman had an autonomous style to his writing and introduced things in his poetry that presented a new way of viewing male sexuality in the 1800s Whitmans writing touches on the subject of homosexuality and how lonely he was left feeling because of it He shows how isolated his life style had to be in such an unaccepting society At the time being a homosexual was not accepted by society which Whitman illustrates when he describes how he saw in Louisiana a live-oak growing Without any companion it grew there And its look rude unbending lusty made me think of myself But I wondered how it could utter joyous leaves standing alone there without its friend its lover- For I knew I could not 7-11 The oak represents how lonely Whitman is because he cannot be with his lover Whitman proves through observing the live-oaks leaves that express themselves freely and making connections with them that being homosexual was something he could not practice openly for he knew he could not 11 This poem addresses homosexuality by suggesting Whitman feels he cannot utter what he truly feels and is left standing alone
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