In his celebration of love and friendship, poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892) wrote with passionate, irregular lines. Unrhymed words of intimacy and magic, with the invitation to love and be loved.
"For every atom belongs to me as good as belongs to you," wrote Whitman who jotted his ideas in a pocket notebook. The first edition of his self-published Leaves of Grass (1855) began with the word "I" and ended with the word "you."
Biographer Justin Kaplan explained that Whitman "wanted a bold, original vernacular that above all reflected American speech rather than traditional poetic language. He was far ahead of his time, but he knew time would catch up with him."
There was a price for Whitman's unbridled faith. At the time, critics thrashed his poetry as "uncouth" and he was fired from his government job for "immoral passages." But still the poet wrote, dedicating his life's work to what he said would celebrate "companionship thick as trees."
Born in West Hill, New York, Whitman and his Leaves of Grass changed modern literature forever.The book has been translated into every major language in the world.
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