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Walt Whitman: The American Poet Essay

993 words - 4 pages

Kyra SmithMrs. MoyerAP English2/1/2012Walt Whitman: A Great American PoetWalt Whitman was one of the greatest American poets; he is considered to be one of the most influential and innovative poets of his time. He is known as "the father of free verse" due to the fact that all his poetry was written without any formal meter, structured stanzas, or rhyme schemes. Free verse was very new at this time, and nobody had written anything like it previously. He started the structure of what we call today modern poetry. Poetry would not be considered the same without great poets like Walt Whitman.Whiteman was born on May 31, 1819 on Long Island, New York. He was the second child out of six children. Whitman stopped going to school at the age of 11 and began to start working to help provide income for his large family. (bio.com) It was said that Whitman looked back on his childhood as an unhappy and unsure time due to his family's difficult economic class. (wikipedia.com) Throughout the course of his lifetime he had several different jobs that included working as a journalist, a teacher, a government clerk, and he even volunteered as a nurse during the Civil War. He did all that as well as writing poetry that America had never seen before that time. Whitman published one of his most famous collections of poetry in 1855. (poets.com) He did this with his own money, and at that times this was a very brave investment. He continued toSmith, 2write and edit his poetry until his death. Towards the end of his life, he had a stroke and died in 1892 at the age of 72. (bio.com)During his lifetime, there was great controversy about his poetry due to sexual descriptions found in his poetry. Through his poetry, many people thought him to be a homosexual, or at least bisexual. He wrote about sex openly and frankly. Nobody is truly sure if he had relations with men, but he did write about it. He wrote about many other things too, like God, himself, and politics. He was an abolitionist, but thought that the abolitionist movement could be a hazard to democracy in America.Ralph Waldo Emerson recognized Whitman's talent and believed that he was one of the greatest new age poets of that time. Emerson called Whitman's poetry "new American literature" due to its scope, size, and the newness of the American country. (enotes.com) Whitman did not follow the same styles of earlier poetry, and gave us a new type of poetry that has the same depth and knowledge as older poetry. Free verse is a style of poetry that does not conform to the traditional rhyme and meter of earlier forms. Using this free verse style as a new poetry writing technique is one of the greatest things Whitman did in his life. Another thing he did in his writing was that he wrote poetry and attempted to...

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