Walt Whitman: Poems

Walt Whitman: Poems Whitman's influence on American writers and leaders

Many renowned poets and other famous figures read and found inspiration in Walt Whitman's poetry. Many American writers cite Whitman as an inspiration for their own work, expressing admiration for his groundbreaking structural innovations as well as the often controversial themes he addressed. Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the founders of the Transcendentalist movement, wrote in a letter to Walt Whitman in 1855, "I greet you at the beginning of a great career." Emerson went on to be a major influence on Whitman's poetry.

Ezra Pound, a well-known poet in the late 19th century and early 20th century, wrote a poem titled "The Pact," the subject of which was Whitman himself. Though Whitman died shortly after Pound was born, his poems had become extremely prominent in the literary community, and Pound had been reading his work from the beginning of his career. Initially, Pound vas very vocal about his dislike for Whitman's rugged style of poetry. In "The Pact," though, Pound admits that Whitman had influenced him and paved the way for his own career. In an essay titled "What I Feel About Walt Whitman," Pound declared Whitman "America's Poet," and also wrote that "He is America."

Andrew Carnegie, the famous 19th century steel tycoon, also held Whitman high regard. He called him "the great poet of America so far." Later in the 19th century, Gothic novelist Bram Stoker modeled the character of Dracula in his groundbreaking novel, Dracula, after Whitman. According to Stoker, he wanted Dracula to represent the quintessential male and in his opinion, this was Whitman.

Walt Whitman's poetry also had a great deal of influence on the early work of 20th century beat poet Allen Ginsberg (best known for "Howl"). Ginsberg addressed his poem "A Supermarket in California" to Whitman.