Walt Whitman Research Paper

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Walt Whitman is regarded as one of America’s most significant 19th century poets. He was an American poet, essayist, journalist, and humanist whose works, described as a “rude shock,” have been translated into more than 25 languages. Whitman is considered one of the most influential and controversial poets in the American canon. His literary style was a free verse, described as “irregular but beautifully rhythmic" in celebration of nature and self. It represented his philosophical view that America was the world’s emancipator and liberator of the human spirit, and the symbolic identification of regeneration in nature. Born on Long Island in 1819, Whitman grew up in Brooklyn and received limited formal education. His occupations during his lifetime included printer, schoolteacher, reporter, and editor. Whitman’s self-published "Leaves of Grass" was inspired in part by his travels through the American frontier and by his admiration for Ralph Waldo Emerson. This important publication underwent eight subsequent editions during his lifetime as Whitman expanded and revised the poetry and added more to the original collection of twelve poems. Emerson himself declared the first edition was “the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed.” …show more content…

Critics and readers alike, however, found both Whitman’s style and subject matter unnerving. According to the Longman Anthology of Poetry, “Whitman received little public acclaim for his poems during his lifetime for several reasons: this openness regarding sex, his self-presentation as a rough working man, and his stylistic innovations.” A poet who “abandoned the regular meter and rhyme patterns” of his contemporaries, Whitman was “influenced by the long cadences and rhetorical strategies of Biblical poetry.” Upon publishing"Leaves of Grass", Whitman was subsequently fired from his job with the Department of the

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