Walt Whitman (1819–1892)

American poet and essayist. Born on Long Island and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Whitman received scant formal education before going to work at age eleven in a newspaper office. He taught school and worked at several government posts during his lifetime, but Whitman considered himself primarily a writer, publishing poetry, stories, and newspaper articles from the age of nineteen. In 1855 he published Leaves of Grass, a series of twelve poems notable for their expansive spirit, use of free verse, and the almost biblical cadences of their clear, colloquial language. As it evolved through its various editions, Leaves of Grass came to include well over 100 poems, including “Song of Myself,” “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” and “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking.” In his poetry and prose, Whitman exuberantly celebrates the landscape and people of the United States. See also whitmanarchive.org.