WALT WHITMAN 1819-1892
Whitman was born in New York in 1819, he had a little formal education, and he always read widely (he was a self-taught). During the Civil War, he didn’t fight, but he visited wounded soldiers in the hospitals; he died in 1892. His masterpiece is “Leaves of grass” (In 1855 there was the first editions, but nine edition followed, each containing new poems!) that can be regarded as a life-long poem because we can see a process of development and expansion. He wanted to give a new voice to the American poetry, exalting freedom by optimism and a romantic faith in the future of his nation! He could be regarded as the father of American poetry and “democracy” certainly is a key-word in his work. Whitman sees himself in men and women and he deals with physical love, too (according to the unity of body and soul). Stylistically, “Leaves of grass” is written in free verse, without rhymes and regular lines, but whit accumulations and additions. He uses a new language because he mixes dialect and common speech with the terminology of science and philosophy.