A review of Walt Whitman’s collection Leaves of Grass in The United States Review in September 1855 began with the remark An American bard at last. His voice brings hope and prophecy to the great races of young and old.
Unusually, Whitman wrote the review, providing a favorable evaluation of his work that was missing from other sources. The New Criterion had called Leaves a mass of stupid filth. The Sunday Press suggested Whitman, then 37, k*illed himself. In actuality, Leaves could only end with Whitman’s passing.
Now firmly set in the canon of American verse, Whitman reworked, added, and reissued the collection for the remainder of his life. Walter Whitman was born on May 31st, 1819, in Long Island, New York, the second of nine children, and grew up in Brooklyn.
He did not obtain much education, laboring as a printer, educator, and editor until self-publishing Leaves in 1855.
He had resolved to react to Ralph Waldo Emerson, who, in an article titled ‘The Poet,’ argued that each new age deserves a new confession and that America required a poet who, with a completely new experience to unfold’ would tell us as it was with him.
Whitman undoubtedly heard the appeal, yet, what had so outraged its readers was the collection’s overt delight in sensual pleasures (often homos*exual), the poet’s own body, and the material world. This was perhaps most obvious in the collection’s opening poem, “Song of Myself.”
Whitman became the Daily Times editor in Brooklyn after Leaves was published. He wrote a poem in favor of the north after the Civil War started and volunteered to work as a nurse in an army hospital in Washington, DC. He acquired work as a clerk in the Bureau of Indian Affairs but was sacked in 1865, probably when his bosses realized that he was the author of Leaves.
The following is a list of links to stories that you might find interesting since they discuss the deaths of well-known people:
- Boom Pacino Cause Of Death: How did Brooklyn Rapper Die?
- Kaleb Booteng Cause of Death: What Happened To Him?
Whitman suffered a stroke in 1873 and was visited by Oscar Wilde while convalescing in New Jersey. He relocated to his final residence in 1884 while bedridden it is now known as the Walt Whitman House in Camden, New Jersey.
His masterpiece was finally finished in 1891 (now known as the “dea†hbed Edition”), the year before his dea†h. He passed away there in 1892. After Whitman di*ed, a three-hour autopsy was performed on his body. Doctors concluded the cause of dea†h (According to The Paris Review)
“… pleurisy of the left side, consumption of the right lung, general military tuberculosis and parenchymatous nephritis.”
Not an unusual end for someone in this period and location. According to Walt Whitman’s America (as reported by The Paris Review)
“was riddled with tubercles and abscesses. An egg-sized abscess beneath his right nipple had completely eroded his fifth rib …”