Тема / Топик по английскому языку:
Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman is considered by many to be one of the greatest American poets. He was born in 1819; early in his life he worked as a printer, a teacher, a newspaper editor, and a carpenter.

By 1841 he had become a full-time journalist, editing successfully several papers and writing prose and verse for different journals.

In 1855 he published a volume of 12 poems that was to make his reputation: «Leaves of Grass». This book the poet continued to enlarge and revise through a number of editions until his death. His «Leaves of Grass» are unconventional in both content and technique. «Leaves of Grass» was innovative in its use of rhythmical free verse. The book was criticized because of Whitman’s exaltation of the body and sexual love, and also because of the unusual verse form. The volume is prefaced by a statement of his theories of poetry. It included the poem later known as «Song of myself». In this poem the author proclaims himself as a symbolic representative of common people.

Although the book was a commercial failure, critics recognized a bold new voice in poetry. Emerson was one of the few intellectuals to praise Whitman’s work, writing him a famous congratulating letter. In time the book proved the most influential volume of poems in American literary history. In its own day, however, only a few recognized its genius.

During the Civil War Whitman worked as a nurse. He also published war poetry in «Drum-Taps» and other collections of poems. In 1873 he had a stroke and lived in a semi-invalid state.

In his works Walt Whitman celebrated the freedom of the man. He praised democracy and brotherhood of men. Walt Whitman inspired later poets to experimentation in verse.

Topical Vocabulary

- to be considered by many
считаться многими
early in one’s life
в начале жизни
- a full-time journalist
журналист в штате
- to publish a volume of poems
опубликовать сборник стихов
to make one’s reputation
создать репутацию, принести славу
«Leaves of Grass»
«Листья травы»
to enlarge and revise smth.
расширять и пересматривать что-либо
a number of editions
ряд изданий
to be unconventional in both content and technique
быть нетрадиционным как по содержанию, так и по форме
to be innovative in smth.
быть новаторским в чем-либо
rhythmical free verse
свободный ритмический стих
to be criticized
подвергаться критике
exaltation of the body and sexual love
культ тела и сексуальной любви
a verse form
стихотворная форма
to be prefaced by smth.
предваряться предисловием
a statement of one’s theories of poetry
выражение чьих-либо поэтических теорий
to proclaim oneself as smb.
объявить себя кем-либо
a symbolic representative of common people
представитель простых людей
- to be a commercial failure
не иметь коммерческого успеха
to recognize a bold new voice in poetry
признать смелый новаторский голос в литературе
an intellectual
to praise one’s work
положительно отзываться о чьем-либо творчестве
to prove the most influential volume of poems
оказаться наиболее значительной книгой стихов
American literary history
история литературы Америки
in its own day
в свое время
to recognize one’s genius
признать чей-либо гений
- war poetry
военная поэзия
a collection of poems
сборник стихов
- to celebrate the freedom of the man
восхвалять свободу личности
to praise democracy and brotherhood of men
прославлять демократию и братство людей
to inspire later poets to experimentation in verse
вдохновить более поздних поэтов на эксперименты в поэзии

Answer the questions:

  1. What were Whitman’s occupations early in his life?
  2. How was his reputation made?
  3. What is «Leaves of Grass» noted for?
  4. What was the book criticized for?
  5. Was the book a failure or a success?
  6. What were the main ideas of the book?
  7. What part has the book played in the literary history of America?

Translate into English:

  1. В начале жизни Уолт Уитмен работал учителем и редактором газеты.
  2. Сборник стихов «Листья травы» создал Уолту Уитмену репутацию прекрасного поэта.
  3. «Листья травы» — произведение, новаторское по содержанию; в нем используется свободный ритмический стих.
  4. Лишь немногие интеллектуалы оценили произведение Уитмена; многие критиковали его за создание культа тела.
  5. С коммерческой точки зрения книга не имела успеха.
  6. Хотя книгу и критиковали, многие признали, что в поэзии прозвучал новый смелый голос.
  7. Книга, которую Уитмен расширял и переписывал несколько раз, оказалась одним из значительных произведений в истории литературы Америки.
  8. Хотя гений Уитмена не был признан при его жизни, он вдохновлял многих поэтов на эксперименты в стихосложении.
  9. Уитмен считал себя представителем простого народа.

Посмотреть ответы

1. Early in his life Walt Whitman worked as a teacher and a newspaper editor.
2. The volume of poems «Leaves of Grass» has made Whitman’s reputation as a poet.
3. «Leaves of Grass» is a book, innovative in contents; rhythmical free verse is used in it.
4. Few intellectuals praised Whitman’s work; it was criticised by many for exultation of the body.
5. The book was a commercial failure.
6. Though the book was criticised, many people recognized the appearance of a bold new voice in poetry.
7. The book which Whitman enlarged and revised several times, proved one of influential works in American literary history.
8. Though Whitman’s genius wasn’t recognized during his life, he inspired many poets to experimentation in verse.
9. Whitman thought of himself as of a representative of common people.


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