Who is the most influential poet in American history? Walt Whitman is one of the most well known poets in history, and he has made a big impact on poetry and writing in itself. Walt Whitman wrote many poems in a somewhat unorthodox fashion at the time. Walt Whitman was arguably America’s most popular and influential poets, but he did not start that way. A well known quote from one of his poems “Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same”. Walt Whitman was born May 31, 1819 in West Hills, Long Island. He was the second of nine children, and his parents were a working class people who had little to no schooling, but Whitman was able to get schooling. He was different from his family there was always something special about him. Whitman was extremely bright and was like that from a young age. He finished all of his formal schooling by age 11 which was a big accomplishment for him and his family because he was the first one to get proper schooling. Whitman was a first generation American he was born right after the American Revolution.
The next 5 years of his life he learned the printing trade working with a newspaper. By 1836 Whitman was known as Mr. Whitman as he taught school in Long Island for a while. Also at this time he went out and published his own weekly newspaper called Long-Islander. By 1841 Whitman decided to move to the big apple to start pursuing his love for journalism and writing. He wrote short stories and little poems at this point in time were indistinguishable from the more popular works of that day, his first novel was Franklin Evans, or the inebriate. For a couple years after that he edited newspapers and even contributed to them as well. He ended up later getting fired from the Brooklyn Eagle due to his political differences with the owner. Whitman always had a liberal way of thinking, and he was against slavery which the owner of the Brooklyn Eagle did not agree with which in turn got whitman fired. Growing up in Long Island is what gave Whitman that way of thinking because most people in that area where liberal. Another relative quote from Whitman”Battles are lost in the same spirit they are won”. Not much is known on why Whitman changed from a journalist and hack writer to a revolutionary poet. The first addition of Leaves of Grass Whitman started it with him saying he was the “poet of the people” and was dressed in workman’s clothes.
Whitman said that his poems would really show the greatness of the new nation amd celebrate it. ‘The Americans of all nations at any time upon the earth have probably the fullest poetical nature. The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem’. Leaves of grass was mostly about the dividing of the US when the Civil War came around. Whitman was fully against slavery and made that very clear through his works and also to people he talked too. Not long after the Civil War started, Whitman went on to search for his brother George who was reportedly wounded in action. It was reported that his brother was stationed in Virginia so that’s where Whitman went. While he was there he worked long hours volunteering to help with taking care of wounded soldiers. His time being around all the sickness and death really took its toll on him. The sight of war made him really changed his outlook on different things. After all that time of of being around all of that he became ill with hospital malaria.
Within a few months he was back to being healthy. In January 1865 he became a clerk at the Indian Bureau of the department of the interior. While the Civil War was not a great time in Whitman’s life it also was a great for him because it inspired many great works from whitman. Such as, ‘Cavalry Crossing a Ford’, ‘The Wound-Dresser,’ ‘Come Up from the Fields Father’, ‘Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night’, ‘Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim,’and ‘Year That Trembled and Reel’d Beneath Me’ Whitman was taken by the simplistic beauty, loneliness, and anguish that he felt from the war. All of these works when they were first written where not very popular. They were not very well known. In fact all of his works did not et much attention until after his death then he became extremely famous. All of these works had much in common they all had a little bit of something to do with politics. It all goes back to his very liberal way of thinking and really showed it. After the Civil War, Whitman’s writing started becoming more about soul, death, and immortality.
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