Walt Whitman: Biography, Poetry, and Legacy

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Walt Whitman

  • Born in New York into a laboring family of agriculturists (the working class.)
  • His family has nine children and he was the second childegan working at the age of 12 as a printer in Brooklyn and New York City.
  • Became a journalist and editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in NY. He was later fired because he supported the antislavery Free Soil faction of the Democratic Party.
  • Traveled via the Mississippi River to Louisiana and worked on the Crescent and later returned to NY.
  • Saw many Shakespeare plays
  • Back in NY he began experimenting with a new style of poetry
  • Published his first edition of Leaves of Grass in 1855 with no publisher nor author name.
  • The third edition of 1860 included Calamus and Premonition later called Started from Pumanok. During this time the Civil War began.
  • Traveled to Washington because his brother was injured in war. He served as a nurse.
  • Wrote now free verse poetry during CW era like Beat!Beat!Drums! The collection of war poems was called Drum-Taps. This collection was included in Leaves of Grass´s 4th edition of 1867.
  • Suffered a stroke in 1873 which left him partly paralyzed.
  • Traveled to Camden New Jersey because his mother was dying. When she died this became the cloud of his life because it affected him.
  • His 5th version of L of G was claimed immoral
  • In Leaves of Grass he addressed the citizens of America to be generous in spirit, a new race in political liberty and possessed of united souls and bodies.
  • He created a new form of free verse without rhyme or metre.
  • For his personal poems we can find Song of Myself
  • It is presumed that he had a homosexual affair.
  • He died in Camden New Jersey.
  • At the time of his death he was more respected in Europe as a symbol of American democracy.
  • I Hear America Singing is his working America poem.


  • Emerson: Transcendentalism
  • Thoreau: Transcendentalism
  • Longfellow: Romanticism
  • Whitman: Romanticism


  • Emerson: Philosophical and Nature
  • Thoreau: Nature, Liberty, Simple Living
  • Longfellow: History of America, Family, Translations, Teaching and Philosophy
  • Whitman: Civil War, Personal/Philosophical, Working America

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