Walt Whitman's Poetry Essay

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Whitman did not stop writing poetry, however, “though they were only rarely as inspired and powerful as his 1855–65 verse” (Eiselein 21). A fifth edition of Leaves of Grass was published in 1871. Later, different versions of it started to appear. The first issue, printed in New York, was a 384-page volume with 10 new poems. The second issue, a 504-page version, appeared in Washington in 1872; it included a separately paged ‘‘Passage to India’’ section of 24 new poems and 51 older ones. The new part was “important for its contribution of exploration and discovery as a metaphor for the spiritual journey of the soul to union with God” (Oliver 20). In the same year, a third issue was published; it added another supplement titled ‘‘After all, Not to Create Only.’’ The final 1872 issue included one more separate “book” of poems, “As a Strong Bird on Pinions Free,” which comprised seven new poems and a preface. This succession of issues indicates that the poet “was not entirely certain about the shape, organization, and direction of Leaves of Grass in the 1870s” (Eiselein 21). This edition also…show more content…
Then, Camden was a growing commercial town across the river from Philadelphia. In 1873 he went to Camden to be with his mother, who was dying. His mother died on May 23. Her death deeply affected the poet; he called it “the great dark cloud of my life” (Oliver 21). In January 1873, he “suffered a stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body and forced him eventually to give up his clerkship at the Attorney General’s office” (Eiselein 22). “He was so depressed by her death and his own ailments that he made out a will and wrote to Peter Doyle that he didn’t think he had long to live” (Oliver 21). From then on he had to use a cane—“and later, after several more strokes, a wheelchair— to move around” (Reynolds, Walt Whitman: Lives and Legacies
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