Walt Whitman, also called ‘Bard of Democracy’ born in West Hills, New York, United States on May 31, 1819 was one of the most influential and published American writer and groundbreaking poet of the world. He was also a humanist, journalist and essayist. Whitman had great love for his country America and its democracy. As a humanist he was part of the transition between realism and transcendentalism and his work incorporates both views. His most popular poems include Song Of Myself, Leaves of Grass and O Captain! My Captain!.
In his family of 11, he was the second child. At age 12 he began working as a printer and discovered that he had great passion for literature. Being a voracious reader and self taught, he turned to a full time career in journalism at 17, in 1836 after he was left without a job. Long-Islander was the weekly newspaper he founded besides editing many New York and Brooklyn papers. He became editor of New Orleans Crescent in 1848 and witnessed how slavery was practiced in the city. With whatever he saw he was greatly repulsed and opposed this. All through his life he followed politics closely. In the fall of 1848 he returned to Brooklyn and founded the Brooklyn Freeman newspaper. Besides journalism Walt Whitman became absorbed in writing distinctive and uniquely styled poetry. ‘Leaves of Grass’ was his seminal work consisting of 12 sections. He finished this in 1855. Though during the time of publication, it was a considered to be a highly controversial book, in American literature, the book is a landmark now.
During his younger years Walt had to help out with income for the household. By 17 he began teaching, worked as educator and later he set his sights on journalism by 1841. He continued with newspaper career with a weekly called the ‘Long Islander’ and became editor of a prominent newspaper, the ‘Brooklyn Daily Eagle’ in 1846. With a sharp pen and as a volatile journalist, his opinions and of the bosses, didn’t align always. Also he was never afraid of going after other newspaper editors, due to which his reputation with other newspapers was tarnished and short-lived.
He died in Camden, New Jersey, United States on March 26, 1892 and was buried in the mausoleum he built in Camden’s Harleigh Cemetery. He had continued to work with Leaves of Grass right till the end. A year before he died, Good-Bye, My Fancy was published.