What was Whitman’s conception of literature at the time he was writing?  Who were his influences?  What did he consider standard literature?  amazing literature?  How radical did he think he was being, and how important was that to him?

I ask these questions because I have a tendency to read too minutely into the form of any poetry, and even after I’ve realized where I’ve gone astray, I still want the form to mean something.  Tonight’s brainstorming of ways to characterize Whitman’s poetic style was satisfying, and I was glad to learn that he is especially thoughtful in his form.  I’m still wondering to what degree we can continue analyzing Whitman’s form when it shows little variation.  In other words, does he eventually vary his style to match different poems, or does he have one style that suits all his work?