Walt Whitman

Poet, Author

1819 – 1892

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Who was Walt Whitman?

Walter "Walt" Whitman was an American poet, essayist and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse. His work was very controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sexuality.

Born on Long Island, Whitman worked as a journalist, a teacher, a government clerk, and—in addition to publishing his poetry—was a volunteer nurse during the American Civil War. Early in his career, he also produced a temperance novel, Franklin Evans. Whitman's major work, Leaves of Grass, was first published in 1855 with his own money. The work was an attempt at reaching out to the common person with an American epic. He continued expanding and revising it until his death in 1892. After a stroke towards the end of his life, he moved to Camden, New Jersey, where his health further declined. He died at age 72 and his funeral became a public spectacle.

Whitman's sexuality is often discussed alongside his poetry. Though biographers continue to debate his sexuality, he is usually described as either homosexual or bisexual in his feelings and attractions. However, there is disagreement among biographers as to whether Whitman had actual sexual experiences with men. Whitman was concerned with politics throughout his life. He supported the Wilmot Proviso and opposed the extension of slavery generally. His poetry presented an egalitarian view of the races, and at one point he called for the abolition of slavery, but later he saw the abolitionist movement as a threat to democracy.

Famous Quotes:

  • Produce great men, the rest follows.
  • A morning glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.
  • All faults may be forgiven of him who has perfect candor.
  • Behold I do not give lectures or a little charity, When I give I give myself.
  • I am for those who believe in loose delights, I share the midnight orgies of young men, I dance with the dancers and drink with the drinkers.
  • Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.
  • Youth, large, lusty, loving -- Youth, full of grace, force, fascination. Do you know that Old Age may come after you with equal grace, force, fascination?
  • Press close bare-bosomed night -- press close magnetic nourishing night! Night of south winds! night of the large few stars! Still nodding night! mad naked summer night.
  • Here or henceforward it is all the same to me, I accept Time absolutely.
  • I dote on myself, there is that lot of me and all so luscious.

Citation

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"Walt Whitman." Biographies.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 23 Jul 2019. <https://www.biographies.net/people/en/walt_whitman>.


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Born
May 31, 1819
West Hills
Also known as
  • Walter Whitman
Religion
  • Unitarian Universalism
  • Pantheism
Ethnicity
  • Dutch-American
Nationality
  • United States of America
Profession
Lived in
  • Camden
  • Hempstead
  • New York
Died
Mar 26, 1892
Camden

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

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