While searching for a connection between Walt Whitman and Martin Tupper, I stumbled across the following lines from Tupper’s Proverbial Wisdom: “Regard now the universe of matter, the substance of visible creation, / Which of old, well observing truth, the Greek had surnamed: Order/ Where is there an atom out of place? or a particle that yieldeth not obedience” (36). For me, these lines read eerily similar to Whitman’s famous opening lines of Song of Myself when he states “I celebrate myself/And what I assume you shall assume/for every atom belonging to me as good/belongs to you” (1). Surely Walt, the newspaperman, had to have stumbled across Tupper’s poetry, but is this an allusion to a fellow poet or merely a sentiment shared by two poets who experienced failure when they initially published their works?
Perhaps the most striking similarity I found between the two poets was the seemingly contradictory social stances that they took. Whitman, as we have discussed, supported the abolishing slavery but still felt that free African American should not participate in voting. WTF? Similarly, Tupper, while a member of the British aristocracy seemed to reject all of the characteristics attributed to his class. As a result, I believe the strongest connection between Whitman and Tupper is their duality: Whitman the anti-poet and Tupper the anti-gentleman. Where Walt asserts “every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you,” Tupper questions “where is there an atom out of place” insinuating that we are all connected via shared atoms and echoes the same sentiment as Whitman. Maybe Whitman and Tupper were atomically connected.