US (1819 - 1892) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic : Transcendentalist
Poems by Walt Whitman
Books - Links
On his return to Brooklyn in the fall of 1848, he founded a "free soil" newspaper, the Brooklyn Freeman, and continued to develop the unique style of poetry that later so astonished Ralph Waldo Emerson. In 1855, Whitman took out a copyright on the first edition of Leaves of Grass, which consisted of twelve untitled poems and a preface. He published the volume himself, and sent a copy to Emerson in July of 1855. Whitman released a second edition of the book in 1856, containing thirty-three poems, a letter from Emerson praising the first edition, and a long open letter by Whitman in response. During his subsequent career, Whitman continued to refine the volume, publishing several more editions of the book.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Whitman vowed to live a "purged" and "cleansed" life. He wrote freelance journalism and visited the wounded at New York-area hospitals. He then traveled to Washington, D.C. in December 1862 to care for his brother who had been wounded in the war. Overcome by the suffering of the many wounded in Washington, Whitman decided to stay and work in the hospitals. Whitman stayed in the city for eleven years. He took a job as a clerk for the Department of the Interior, which ended when the Secretary of the Interior, James Harlan, discovered that Whitman was the author of Leaves of Grass, which Harlan found offensive. Harlan fired the poet.
Whitman struggled to support himself through most of his life. In Washington he lived on a clerk's salary and modest royalties, and spent any excess money, including gifts from friends, to buy supplies for the patients he nursed. He had also been sending money to his widowed mother and an invalid brother. From time to time writers both in the states and in England sent him "purses" of money so that he could get by.
In the early 1870s, Whitman settled in Camden, where he had come to visit his dying mother at his brother's house. However, after suffering a stroke, Whitman found it impossible to return to Washington. He stayed with his brother until the 1882 publication of Leaves of Grass gave Whitman enough money to buy a home in Camden. In the simple two-story clapboard house, Whitman spent his declining years working on additions and revisions to a new edition of the book and preparing his final volume of poems and prose, Good-Bye, My Fancy (1891). After his death on March 26, 1892, Whitman was buried in a tomb he designed and had built on a lot in Harleigh Cemetery.
-- from Poets.org
Poems by Walt Whitman
- A noiseless patient spider
- Grand is the Seen
- I think I could turn and live with animals
- O Captain! my Captain!
- O Me! O life!
-  I celebrate myself, and sing myself (from Song of Myself)
-  Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are crowded with perfumes (from Song of Myself)
-  I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end (from Song of Myself)
-  Trippers and askers surround me (from Song of Myself)
-  I believe in you my soul, the other I am must not abase itself to you (from Song of Myself)
-  A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands (from Song of Myself)
-  Has anyone supposed it lucky to be born? (from Song of Myself)
-  The little one sleeps in its cradle (from Song of Myself)
-  The big doors of the country barn stand open and ready (from Song of Myself)
-  Alone far in the wilds and mountains I hunt (from Song of Myself)
-  These are really the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands, they are not original with me (from Song of Myself)
-  With music strong I come, with my cornets and my drums (from Song of Myself)
-  Who goes there? hankering, gross, mystical, nude (from Song of Myself)
-  Walt Whitman, a cosmos, of Manhattan the son (from Song of Myself)
-  It is time to explain myself -- let us stand up (from Song of Myself)
The Walt Whitman Archive
Every fan of Whitman should visit this site. Biography, images, manuscripts, even has images of Whitman's poems in his own handwriting.
Reminiscences of Walt Whitman by John Townsend Trowbridge
Originally published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1902, this article is a personal description of encounters with the "great grey poet."
Walt Whitman: Long Island's Great Grey Poet
A site that promotes Long Island (Whitman's birthplace), with nice photos and a virtual walking tour of the places associated with his family and youth.
Bartleby: Leaves of Grass
Leaves of Grass on line.