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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Walt Whitman

Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.    ~ Walt Whitman

Today is the one hundred and nineteenth anniversary of the death of Walt Whitman, the father of free verse in America.   Born in Long Island New York in 1819, Whitman grew to become a man filled with wonder, mystic sensibilities, a love of life, of words and of relationships.

His flourishing, rhythmic, earthy verse and his fresh use of language changed forever the face of American poetry.  Erotic candour separated him from conventional romantic poets.

I celebrate myself;
And what I assume you shall assume;
For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you.

These lines are from Leaves of Grass.   This poetry collection was revised and reprinted many times throughout his entire life and remains notable for its delight in and praise of the senses during a time when such candid displays were considered immoral.  Leaves of Grass exalted the body and the material world, nature and the individual human’s role in it, as well as the mind or spirit, to offer an inclusive rounded vision of human life in the natural world.

Whitman worked on Leaves of Grass from 1855 until his death in 1892, growing it from twelve poems to nearly four hundred; the poetry collection became an American classic.

Learn more about Walt Whitman here.

"Who Learns My Lesson Complete?

And that my soul embraces you this hour, and we
affect each other without ever seeing each
other, and never perhaps to see each other, is
every bit as wonderful;
And that I can think such thoughts as these is just
as wonderful,
And that I can remind you, and you think them
and know them to be true is just as wonderful,
And that the moon spins around the earth and on
with the earth is equally wonderful,
And that they balance themselves with the sun and
stars is equally wonderful."

Excerpt from Leaves of Grass

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