Democratic Individualism in Whitman’s Poetry
Walt Whitman will remain as a well-known, superb poet. Clarence Brown stated, the words of someone speaking on Walt Whitman, “He is the only one of the conventionally recognized American poets who is worth reading” (37). Walt Whitman is a poet that writes with purpose. His poetry seems to attempt to teach the more desirable behavior and traits for Americans. It depicts the ideal American democrat, peace maker, and a well-rounded person, in general. Not that Walt Whitman is only about democracy. He focuses on an important end result which is the happiness and function of the overall body of people. This happiness can be achieved efficiently through democracy and democratic behavior, according to Whitman and his beliefs. John Macy wrote, in The Spirit of American Literature, “Only one day in the century of American literature is marked by the birth of a ‘marker of poems, an Answerer’-the day when Whitman was born” (210). Walt Whitman was born May 31, 1819 to Walter Whitman and Louisa Van Velsor. Walt was the second of nine children in his household. One can imagine that his life, surrounded by many siblings, was indeed hectic. Their family resided in New York, mostly Brooklyn, during the 1820s and 1830s. Peace and equality could be things that a young boy with eight other siblings would want. His household may have influenced values that would stick with Walt for his entire life, values that would shape his career. At a very young age, twelve years old, Walt Whitman was introduced to the printing trade. This was seemingly the point in his life that influenced his love of words and literature. He taught himself to read and did so very often. His favorite literature or the literature that was frequently available to him was that of Shakespeare, Dante, and Homer. Walt also was fascinated with the Bible. From these pieces of literature, Walt could have taken ideas of love, tragedy, trials and triumphs. This time in his...
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