The Poetry of Walt Whitman Essay

1645 Words 7 Pages
Walt Whitman is considered by many to be one of the greatest poets of the nineteenth century. Whitman grew up in New York and was a member of a large family, having eight siblings. Only four of these siblings lived to adulthood. His father was an alcoholic, which led to Whitman becoming more like a father-figure than a brother to his siblings. Whitman quit school at the age of eleven. He then worked as a journalist, as a carpenter, as a teacher, and as an editor before focusing on poetry. Whitman is most well-known for his book of poems, Leaves of Grass. Whitman could not find a publisher interested in his poems; therefore, he published them himself. Whitman rereleased this collection of poems several times, each time with the addition of …show more content…
Whitman deplored slavery and was even fired from his job as an editor for his outspoken views on the subject. Whitman saw Lincoln as someone who wanted to put an end to slavery and as someone who would put his words into action. Whitman took a great interest in The Civil War. His brother served in the war and Whitman volunteered as a nurse at an army hospital in Washington, D.C., where he dressed the wounds of injured soldiers, as well as read to them, and wrote letters for them to their families. Whitman gave lectures on President Lincoln almost up until his own death. Whitman was greatly disturbed by the assassination of President Lincoln and wrote these poems as a tribute to him.
The most popular and the most analyzed of these poems is When Lilacs Last in the DoorYard Bloom’d. Laurie Lanzen writes, “this is a poem whose rich and sacred beauty and rapture of tender religious passion leave it unique and solitary in literature, and will make it the chosen and immortal hymn of death forever” (Lanzen, 544 ). Even though Whitman never mentions President Lincoln by name in the poem, according to whitmanarchive.org, this poem “was published in the fourth edition of Leaves of Grass in 1867 under the heading President Lincoln’s Burial Hymn” (whitmanarchive.org). This has come to be considered as one of the best poems ever written by Whitman. When Lilacs Last in the
Open Document