Walt Whitman was an American poet, essayist, journalist, and humanist born on Long Island, New York. His most famous work is the collection of poetry, Leaves of Grass.
•He was born on a Long Island, New York as the second of nine children. When he was four, the family moved to Brooklyn. He attended school for only six years before starting work as a printer's apprentice.
•He was almost entirely self-educated, reading especially the works of Homer, Dante and Shakespeare. His education was formal, for a long time he was engaged in newspaper work.
•1835 he returned to Long Island as a country school teacher and later founded and edited a newspaper, the Long-Islander, in his hometown of Huntington
•1841 he entered politics as a Democrat and was actively associated with at least 10 newspapers and magazines in NY and Brooklyn.
•1855 was self-published the first edition of LEAVES OF GRASS at his expense. It was an anonymous collection from “An American Poet At last”
•During the Civil War he volunteered his service as a male nurse, he cared for wounded soldiers in and around Washington. He admired Abraham Lincoln, his poems “O Captain! My Captain!” and “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed!” were influenced by his profound grief after president’s assassination in 1865
•After the war he found job as a clerk in the US Department of Interior, but was fired when the Secretary discovered he was the author of Leaves of Grass
•1892 he died and was buried in Camden's Harleigh Cemetery, in a simple tomb of his own design.
LEAVES OF GRASS- collection of poems generally taken as an ardent celebration of man and nature.
It includes the poem SONG OF MYSELF, the most representative poems of this collection.
MEMORANDA DURING THE WARhe describes his experience from the war
DEMOCRATIC VISTAS- prose work, he expressed his belief in democracy
By the time he came on the literary scene, bodily relations between man and woman had never been discussed openly in American poetry. Dirty cities, prostitutes, and other aspects of urban life had not been poetical enough to be used in literature.
In his poems there are quite a lot of extended metaphors and symbols. He used rhetorical devices, such as parallelism and repetition. His vocabulary was based on common phrases and expressions.
Walt Whitman is a poet of international fame. He was one of the greatest innovators in American literature. His creative genius brought about a real revolution in poetry. He discarded the traditional poetic forms of his days, tackled new themes in his poems and used the so-called free verse in place of the conventional iambic pentameter.
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Walt Whitman: Biography
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