Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman (1819-1882)
Walt Whitman (1819-1882)

Walt Whitman Born on May 31, 1819 in West Hills, New York, United States. Walt Whitman grew up in rural Long Island and Brooklyn. His Parents Semi -literates and he received little formal teacher and carpenter by turns. He was a voracious reader and was the opera. Whitman grewup during the period of Jacksonion Democracy and was deeply influenced by the virtues of plain people, equality and popular control of government. As editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle for two years and he began to see democracy as a spiritual faith. Henceforth his view of life become mystical. He began to believe that the material word and ita inhabitants were emanation of divinit and therefore sacred, and man could achieve a sense of unity with with god. Acknowledging his debt to Emerson, he said, ‘I was simmering, simmering,simmering. Emerson brought me to a boil.’ At the age of 36 he published the first edition of his volmeof poems leaves of Grass(1855) which was labelled by critics as ‘a poetry of barbarism’ , for they were shocked by its free metrical from, its exotic and vulgar langage, its free celebration of the human body. Undaunted, Whitman continued to bring out new editions of Leaves of Grass and expositions of the democratic ideal, thereby paving the Whitman did not mean only individualism but also equality, fraternity and manly love of comrades. Like Melville, he had an endless interest in the sea. Science too claimed his attention and his poems are often ‘the tufts and final applause of science.’

When the Civil War began, he travelled to Washington and worked there as a government clerk, and a volunteer ‘wound dresser’, in a nearby military hospital. This enabled him to grasp the tragic significance of the war, and furnished another abiding theme for his poetry, Death, which for him symbolized not an end, but an interlude between one life and another. As a modern poet, he wrote new poetry to meet the needs of the New world. Breaking away from stock poetical devices, he avoided using excessively figurative language and carried forward the literary tendencies introduced by his predecessors. Using humble speech and by blending verse and prose, he evolved a free from of his own. His poetry came to exert a greater influence on modern American poetry than the work of any other writer. He became a national figure and his Leaves of Grass with over 400 poems that had appeared in its nine editions was acclaimed as a landmark in American culture and the greatest single book of poetry in American history.

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