A True Patriot: Walt Whitman

Better Essays
A True Patriot: Walt Whitman
When one talks of great American Poets, if the person has any since of intelligence, then they can in now way fail to mention Walt Whitman. Whitman is unmistakingly a great American poet, So great, that Ralph Waldo Emerson said that he was an “American Shakespeare” (Tucker 247). While the debate still goes on about that comment, there is no debate about the greatness of Whitman.
Walt Whitman was born in West Hills, NY on May 31, 1819 on Long Island. He was the second of nine children. He never developed a close relationship with his father, but he was very close to his mother. When he was four, he moved to Brooklyn where he went to school for six years and, when he was eleven, dropped out and began work as a clerk in a Law Office. Shortly thereafter, he became a typesetter’s apprentice. He then began to teach school on Long Island. Bored by this, he began to edit and publish the Long Islander, an area newspaper (Funk 293). But this attempt at a steady job was unsuccessful as well, he then began to write political essays and started to write what would become his life's work Leaves of Grass. He would write various books of poems, most of which would be added to Leaves of Grass, which he re-published nine times. Whitman spent his last days as the sage of Camden, New Jersey, where he died on March 36, 1892 (Magill 406).
Walt Whitman, through his admiration for a fallen President, condemnation of war, and his theme of camaraderie, illustrates a definition of patriotism.
Walt Whitman was an American, and he loved President Abraham Lincoln. He had the upmost respect for the sixteenth President of the United States. His admiration was shown in his most famous work, O’ Captain, My Captain. This is without a doubt the most popular poem of Whitman’s career. In it, he repeats the word Captain; this word refers to Abraham Lincoln, the fallen President. He uses phrases like “fallen cold and dead” to tell of the mournful death of Lincoln. Whitman mentions a “ship”, which is the Union in the Civil War. He also uses the “voyage” to symbolize the Civil War. The overall mood of this elegy to Lincoln is grievance for the lost loved one of Whitman. He had a deep reverence for the President and it was a great pain for him when Lincoln was assassinated (Whitman 63). Another poem that Whitman wrote, that is famous for its grievance of the fallen Presi...

... middle of paper ...

...d have to be close with those around you. The only way to counteract the horrors of war is the camaraderie of the soldiers, if they developed friendships then they could look past the horrible thing that is war (Magill 406).
A patriot is defined as a person who loves his or her country. If there is anyone that has ever lived in this great country that can be called that, then it should be Walt Whitman. Whitman showed his love for his country and his allegiance to his president. One can deny that he is the greatest American poet, but no one can deny that he is a great American patriot.

Works Cited
Magill, Frank N. ed. Magill’s Critical Survey of Poetry. 7 vols. Englewood Cliffs, 1987.
Tucker, Martin ed. Moulton’s Library of Literary Criticism of English and American Authors. The Mid-Nineteenth Century to Edwardianism. Englewood Cliffs, 1975.

Unger, Leonard ed. American Writers: A Collection of Literary Biographies. 7 vols. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1974.

Whitman, Walt. Drum Taps. Grosset & Dunlap New York: NODATE

Whitman, Walt. “Leaves of Grass.” Timeless, Timeless, Themes: The American Experience. Upper Saddle River: Prentice, 2000.
Get Access