Walter Whitman

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Walter Whitman “I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars” (Whitman 41). Walter Whitman, also known as Walt Whitman, was born on May 31, 1819, in Long Island, New York, to Walter Whitman and Louisa Van Velsor Whitman. When he was twelve, Walt and his family settled in Brooklyn, up to then his family had lived in a dozen different places (Conarroe 4). Walt worked in many different positions; to some he was even viewed as a drifter. Walt was many different things; he worked as a carpenter and home builder, like his father, and apprentice printer, a school teacher, editor of several newspapers, including Brooklyn’s Daily Eagle, journalist, and writer. However, despite whatever job Walt Whitman was working as, he always wrote poems. Frequently, that even meant neglecting to go to work to be able to write poems (Wells xi). Even though most of Whitman’s life was spent in New York, he did spend some time in Louisiana as a special writer for New Orleans’s Crescent newspaper (Conarroe 4). In May 15, 1855, two weeks and two days before his 36th birthday, Whitman published his first book Leaves of Grass (Kaplan 198). This short book contained a long preface and only twelve poems, all of which did not have any titles until Whitman named them later in the revised editions of his book. Although it is one of the most influential books of its time and teaches many important life lessons, when it was published it was met with mixed emotions. Emerson, a close friend of Whitman’s, said “I find it the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet to tribute. . . . I greet you at that beginning of a great career” (Markham 128). However, Whitman had many tough critics in his time. James Russell Lowe... ... middle of paper ... ...o allow the doctors to perform an autopsy. However, they did it anyway, and after a three hour tedious examination they discovered that Whitman died of pulmonary emphysema; the left lung had completely collapsed, and the right lung had minimal functional ability to it (Kaplan 53). His funeral was held on March 30th. People who knew Walt swarmed to his house to pay their respect. Whitman’s body now rests at Harleigh Cemetery, inside a mausoleum he built. With him are his mother, father, Eddy and George Whitman, Hannah, and their infant son. Whitman believed that his words and their meanings would live on, for they came from his soul. He wrote, “I swear I see now that everything has an eternal soul” (Whitman 104). Walt Whitman may be gone, but his words will live on because he told us when he wrote, “I swear I think there is nothing but immortality” (Whitman 104).
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