Walt Whitman was an American poet, journalist and essayist, who is often referred to as the father of free verse and is best known for his work “Leaves of Grass”.
Whitman was born on May 31, 1819, in Huntington, Long Island, New York and he finished schooling at the age of eleven, after which he worked as an office boy and an apprentice for a weekly Long Island newspaper.
He spent about a year away from his family and upon his return, was employed as a teacher. Whitman, who was now unsatisfied with his job as a teacher, returned to Huntington, New York and founded his own newspaper, titled “the Long Islander”, of which he was the publisher, editor, pressman and distributor.
A few years later, he moved to New York City and worked for various newspapers before being appointed as the editor of the Aurora in 1842 and the Brooklyn Eagle from 1846 to 1848.
Whitman’s most notable work, a collection of poetry titled “Leaves of Grass” was published in 1855 and was received with both admiration and widespread criticism. It was revised and re-written several times, with the first edition being a collection of twelve poems and the last, a collection of over 400 poems.
The poems were written as free verse, without use of any traditional rhyme, meter or line length. During the American Civil war, Whitman volunteered as a nurse in the army hospitals and wrote of his experience in a New York newspaper in 1863 and in his book “Memoranda During the War”. Whitman passed away on March 26, 1892, leaving behind a legacy as one of America’s greatest poets and was buried in his tomb at Harleigh Cemetery in Camden.
Franklin Evans (1842)
Leaves of Grass (1855) (“Song of Myself”,
“O Captain! My Captain!”)
Democratic Vistas (1871)