Walt Whitman, famous for his poem "O Captain! My Captain!", was one of America's greatest 19th-century poets. He was also a journalist. Whitman wrote one of the finest works of American literature, the poetry collection Leaves of Grass.
Early Life of Whitman
Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was born on May 31, in West Hills, Long Island, and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. His father was a Quaker carpenter, while his mother took care of nine children. As a child he loved books, in particular, Dante, Homer, Shakespeare, and the Bible.
As a youth, Whitman attended rural schools. He was originally trained to be a printer, but spending many summers on Long Island, he developed a deep love of nature that was to dominate his writing.
For most of his life Whitman worked as a journalist. He began writing for newspapers in New York, but as a young man, he travelled to New Orleans to work on a paper there and saw the huge difference and diversity of his country for the first time.
Back in New York, Whitman witnessed the rapid growth of the city as hundreds of thousands of people arrived from all over he world to make a better life. His experiences inspired him to write a new kind of poetry that could capture and express his sentiment at this amazing influx of diverse people seeking and longing for freedom.
The first edition of Leaves of Grass was published at Whitman's own expense; he was 36 years old. At that time, his poems were taken as unusual, therefore, no publisher would accept them. The poems of Walt Whitman are a celebration of nature, of the individual, of freedom, and of kinship of all humanity. He was widely criticized for his use of blank verse, as well as his openness about sexuality.
The American Civil War to Whitman
During the American Civil War, Whitman worked as a nurse. After the war he published Drum-Taps, poems about his experience of war, including one of his most famous and monumental 'O Captain! My Captain!', about the death of President Abraham Lincoln. He died aged 72.
Walt Whitman's Works
.Leaves of Grass, 1855
.Sequel to Drum-Taps, including 'O Captain! My Captain!, 1865-1866
.Democratic Vistas, 1871
.Memoranda During the War, 1875
.Specimen Days and Collect, 1882
by Walt Whitman(1819-1892)
How they are provided for upon the earth, (appearing at intervals,)
How dear and dreadful they are to the earth,
How they inure to themselves as much as to any--what a paradoxappears their age,
How people respond to them, yet know them not,
How there is something relentless in their fate all times,
How all times mischoose the objects of their adulation and reward,
And how the same inexorable price must still be paid for the same
Poets to Come
by Walt Whitman(1819-1892)
Poets to come! orators, singers, musicians to come!
Not to-day is to justify me and answer what I am for,
But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental, greater than before known,
Arouse! for you must justify me.
I myself but write one or two indicative words for the future,
I but advance a moment only to wheel and hurry back in the darkness.
I am a man who, sauntering along without fully stopping,
turns a casual look upon you and then averts his face,
Leaving it to you to prove and define it,
Expecting the main things from you.
A few that really interest me to share at this site:
A Woman Waits for Me. by Walt Whitman(1819-1892)
Whoever You Are Holding Me Now in Hand. by Walt Whitman(1819-1892)
Are You the New Person Drawn Toward Me? by Walt Whitman(1819-1892)
Myself and Mine by Walt Whitman(1819-1892)