Walt Whitman



Walt Whitman is buried in Harleigh Cemetery, Camden, New Jersey, USA in a tomb of his own design.

Tomb of Walt Whitman

In 1873 Whitman suffered a partial paralysis and moved to his brother's home in Camden New Jersey. Despite his poor health he continued to write poetry and managed to complete a tour of Western America in 1879.

He died on March 26th 1892 - the same year as the sixth and final version of Leaves of Grass was published.

As a young man Whitman used traditional poetic forms but later began to write free verse influenced by the rhythms in The Bible. When Leaves of Grass first appeared, the poetry reading public were horrified. (It was the same year that Longfellow published  Hiawatha to great acclaim.)

However, in time, his 'barbaric yawp' was to prove hugely influential in heralding in the new age of modernist poetry. In his poem A Pact Ezra Pound states that it was Whitman 'that broke the new wood'.

Whitman inspired many imitators including D.H. Lawrence, Carl Sandburg, Langston Hughes and Beat Poet Allen Ginsberg.

In his old age Whitman had the appearance of an Old Testament prophet due to his long shaggy beard and piercing eyes.

See also dissonance.

Walt Whitman, a kosmos, of Manhattan the son,
Turbulent, fleshy, sensual, eating, drinking and breeding,
No sentimentalist, no stander above men and women or apart from them,
No more modest than immodest.
Unscrew the locks from the doors!
Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!

From Song of Myself  XXIV  (complete poem)

Read more of Whitman's poetry

The Walt Whitman Archive






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