Facts about Walt Whitman

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Walter, or Walt, Whitman is a well-known American poet of the 19th century. His works contain the flavors of Native Americans, and he is considered one of the poets of the American people who reached out to the general public.

Fact 1: Walt Whitman’s Early Life

Walt Whitman was born in the West Hills, Huntington Town, Long Island on the 31st of May in 1819. His parents were Walter and Louisa Whitman, and he was the second child among the nine siblings. Initially the Whitman family had large farmlands, but they were sold out by the time he was born. So Walt’s father had to work hard to maintain the family—sometimes as a farmer, real estate speculator, and also a carpenter. When they moved to Brooklyn, Walt was admitted to school. He finished his formal education by 1830 and then learned the printing trade.


Fact 2: Beginning of His Career

The poet, journalist, and essayist Walt Whitman of New York was a man of free will right from his youth. At the age of 17 he turned to teaching, and he began his first job in a one-room schoolhouse in Long Island, where he continued for five years. He was a voracious reader and always aspired to be a poet. In 1841 he took up journalism for his career as he was talented with his pen. He started a weekly newspaper called Long Islander. Thereafter, he returned to New York and became the editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1846. In 1848, Walt Whitman returned to Brooklyn and started a fresh “new-soil” newspaper named Brooklyn Freeman.


Fact 3: His Later Days

Walt Whitman was considered one of the most influential poets of his time, for his aim was to transcend the traditional works of the epics. He wanted to reach out to the common people through normal aesthetics and portray his experiences as an American and as a participant in the country’s democracy. The Leaves of Grass, a landmark in American Literature, was his self-publication in 1855.  He volunteered as an attendant during the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865. He is often referred to as “the father of the free verse.” He was a part of the shift from transcendentalism toward realism, and his expressions are well portrayed in his works.


Fact 4: His Works

His collection of poems, Leaves of Grass, was his own publication. He took about five years to write it, and his intention was to offer an American epic to the world of literature. He employed free verse and cadence based on the Bible to bring in the feel of a great epic. Through this book, he expressed his ideas and views regarding abolition of slavery and racism. At the beginning of the Civil War in America, he published “Beat! Beat! Drums.”  It was a patriotic compilation. Although there were great controversies regarding his works, O’Connor supported him and wrote a biography, The Good Gray Poet, exalting him as a great patriot.

Walt Whitman’s other conventional works include “O Captain! My Captain!” that he wrote on the death of Abraham Lincoln. In 1968 an edition of many of his works was published in England named Poems of Walt Whitman. It gained great popularity and appreciation worldwide.  Whitman is referred to as the first American poet of democracy because of his American style of writing and the extensive use of common people as his subject matter. His poetry was used in music by great composers. He passed away in 1892 on March 26 when he was 72 years old and was at his home in New Jersey. The house where he spent his last days in Camden, New Jersey, USA, is known as Walt Whitman House and is open to the public

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