Walt Whitman: Poems


Whitman's work breaks the boundaries of poetic form and is generally prose-like.[1] He also used unusual images and symbols in his poetry, including rotting leaves, tufts of straw, and debris.[105] He also openly wrote about death and sexuality, including prostitution.[84] He is often labeled as the father of free verse, though he did not invent it.[1]

Poetic theory

Whitman wrote in the preface to the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass, "The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it." He believed there was a vital, symbiotic relationship between the poet and society.[106] This connection was emphasized especially in "Song of Myself" by using an all-powerful first-person narration.[107] As an American epic, it deviated from the historic use of an elevated hero and instead assumed the identity of the common people.[108] Leaves of Grass also responded to the impact that recent urbanization in the United States had on the masses.[109]

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