At various times, Walt Whitman was a teacher, a journalist, a government official and a clerk. He also spent a significant period in his life working in the hospitals of the American Civil War, and witnessed the acute suffering of casualties.

While employed as a low-level clerk in the Ministry for the Interior, Whitman was fired from his position when a superior disapproved of his first collection of poetry, Leaves of Grass, on moral grounds.

The intervention of a friend saw Whitman transferred to the Attorney General’s office, and he continued to write and revise new editions of Leaves of Grass. It is also worth noting that this book had 8 editions, and Whitman revised and improved the content while adding several other poems. He also considered his first edition of the book as a remarkable literary piece in the history of America. Those who have read and discovered much artistry in this book agree with Whitman since his masterpiece was indeed a must-read because of its originality and immense appeal to poetry enthusiasts.

His popularity increased with the publication of his tribute on the death of Abraham Lincoln, ‘O Captain! My Captain!’

Whitman is regarded as one of America’s most significant and popular poets. Stylistically innovative and compassionate in tone, he believed in the vital importance of the relationship between the poet and society.

Recording commissioned by the Poetry Archive, used here with kind permission of the reader.

Poems by Walt Whitman

To A Stranger

Read by Kenneth Branagh
To A Stranger - Walt Whitman - Read by Kenneth Branagh

Song of Myself

Read by David Yezzi
Song of Myself - Walt Whitman - Read by David Yezzi
When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d - Walt Whitman - Read by David Yezzi

Dirge For Two Veterans

Read by Jacob Sam-La Rose
Dirge For Two Veterans - Walt Whitman - Read by Jacob Sam-La Rose

Books by Walt Whitman

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