Walt Whitman Biography | Author of Song of Myself

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Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman was born in West Hills, New York, on May 31, 1819, and settled with his family in Brooklyn soon after. Frequent visits to the city's museums, libraries, and lecture halls supplemented the future poet's lackluster public school education. He worked as a newspaper apprentice, schoolteacher, journalist, fiction writer, and editor of a New Orleans paper. It was in New Orleans that Whitman witnessed a slave auction firsthand. He vowed to never forget the dehumanization that was a regular occurrence in the United States.

He began writing uninspired, conventional poetry in the 1840s, then, toward the early 1850s, mysteriously abandoned convention and started creating utterly original poems. These were published anonymously in 1855 in a collection titled Leaves of Grass. The poems, especially "Song of Myself," changed the face of American poetry forever. Whitman revised, rearranged, and added poems to the book throughout the rest of his...

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This section contains 226 words
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Buy the Song of Myself Study Guide
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