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Walter Whitman

Page history last edited by Tyler Hartigan 9 years ago

Walter Whitman





         Walter Whitman was a well-know American poet who published nine separate editions of his masterpiece, Leaves of Grass. He strongly influenced the direction of 20th century poets throughout his career and still today his poems are highly regarded throughout the world.

     Walter Whitman was born in West Hills, New York, in 1819. Whitman was the second of nine children and attended school in Brooklyn. In 1830, he finished his formal education and went into the printing trade. In 1836, he taught as a teacher on Long Island. While teaching he founded the weekly newspaper, Long-Islander. By 1840 his interests magnetized towards journalism and for the next few years he edited several newspapers and contributed to several others. Many of his next jobs from 1848 to 1854 consisted of carpentry, free-lance journalism, operation of printing office, built houses, and speculated in real estate. In 1855, Whitman established his career and interest as a revolutionary poet. He broke the traditional methods of poetry by writing in free verse often, stressing rhymes with native American speech and using slang expressions. The first edition of Leaves of Grass opened in 1855 and consisted of 12 poems. More of the well known poems today are "Song of Myself," "The Sleepers," "There Was a Child Went Forth," and "I Sing the Body Electric." Later, Walt Whitman experienced the Civil War first hand by encountering battle when he went to Virginia in search of his wounded brother. The war had a great impact on the content and character of his poems to come; making them sorrowful and even more powerful to readers.

     Whitman was praised by many. One of them was the great Ralph Waldo Emerson. He once said Whitman was "the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom" that America had yet contributed. His reputation after his death was more highly regarded in Europe rather than his home of the United States. This was mainly because he was seen as a symbol of American democracy rather than just one of a poet. During his last year, the ninth and final edition of Leaves of Grass was published and made a substantial pay. He died in his quiet cottage that he had bought with the money and lived the end of his life mixed with happiness and contrastingly, sadness. He made many friends but he was fairly depressed most likely due to his sexual ambiguity. Clearly Walter Whitman paved a road in the future of poetry to come. As well as other such literary concepts and renowned findings. Still today, the English language learns and teaches his revolutionary advances in poetry to generations to come.














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