Walt Whitman was an American poet, essayist, and journalist, who is considered one of the most influential figures in American literature. He was born on May 31, 1819, in West Hills, New York, to a working-class family. As a young man, he worked as a printer and journalist, and developed a deep appreciation for the beauty and diversity of the American landscape.
Whitman’s poetry was characterized by its celebration of the human experience and its rejection of traditional poetic forms. His most famous work, “Leaves of Grass,” was published in 1855 and went on to become one of the most important and influential works in American literature.
Despite his success as a poet, Whitman faced significant criticism and censorship during his lifetime due to the frank and controversial themes in his work, including his exploration of sexuality and his rejection of traditional religious and moral values.
Whitman died on March 26, 1892, in Camden, New Jersey, at the age of 72. Today, he is remembered as one of the greatest poets in American history, and his works continue to inspire and influence generations of writers and readers around the world. His legacy as a champion of individualism, democracy, and freedom of expression remains as relevant and important today as it was during his lifetime.
I exist as I am, that is enough.
Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large – I contain multitudes.
Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you. You must travel it by yourself. It is not far. It is within reach. Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know. Perhaps it is everywhere – on water and land.
The future is no more uncertain than the present.
I have learned that to be with those I like is enough.
The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.
I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you when I sit alone or wake at night alone.
The world below the brine, Forests at the bottom of the sea, the branches and leaves, Sea-lettuce, vast lichens, strange flowers and seeds, the thick tangle openings, and pink turf,
Re-examine all you have been told. Dismiss what insults your soul.
All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses.
I have said that the soul is not more than the body, And I have said that the body is not more than the soul, And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one’s self is,
I am large, I contain multitudes.
To have great poets, there must be great audiences too.
A great city is that which has the greatest men and women.
Behold, I do not give lectures or a little charity, When I give I give myself.
The public is a thick-skinned beast and you have to keep whacking away at its hide to let it know you’re there.
I have the same old dream, always, a dream of strange landscapes, of far-off countries, of skies that are somehow deeper than ours, and of people who live lives infinitely more intense than our own.
The earth, that is sufficient, I do not want the constellations any nearer, I know they are very well where they are.
Nothing can happen more beautiful than death.
I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.