One of the great innovative figures in American letters, Walt Whitman created a daringly new kind of poetry that became a major force in world literature. Leaves Of Grass is his one book. First published in 1855 with only twelve poems, it was greeted by Ralph Waldo Emerson as "the wonderful gift . . . the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed." Over the course of Whitman's life, the book reappeared in many versions, expanded and transformed as the author's experiences and the nation's history changed and grew. Whitman's ambition was to creates something uniquely American. In that he succeeded. His poems have been woven into the very fabric of the American character. From his solemn masterpieces "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" and "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" to the joyous freedom of "Song of Myself," "I Sing the Body Electric," and "Song of the Open Road," Whitman's work lives on, an inspiration to the poets of later generations.
About the Author
Born in 1819 in Long Island, New York, Walt Whitman was a poet, essayist, and journalist best known for Leaves of Grass (first published in 1855) and the poems "Song of Myself " and "I Sing the Body Electric." In the early years of the Civil War, Whitman traveled to Washington, D.C., to search for his brother, who was reported missing in action. Whitman stayed in Washington and volunteered as an aide in the hospitals, tending to sick and wounded soldiers. One of the first American poets to gain international attention, Whitman died in 1862 in Camden, New Jersey.
"Whitman's best poems have that permanent quality of being freshly painted, of not being dulled by the varnish of the years."