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Life and Career of Walt Whitman

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    Walt Whitman once wrote,“I exist as I am, that is enough”(Whitman, Song of Myself) .Walt lived his life by this quote, many people questioned the themes of his writings and found them obscure and obscene but he continued his themes and didn’t let anyone change his style. Walt was born into a non religious family that resided in the suburbs of New York City, New York. At a young age he was taken out of school and thrown into the workforce. He worked for many journalism organizations until starting his own writing. He has been referenced in many movies, books, and literary works. Walt Whitman was an American poet, author, journalist, nurse, novelist, and philosopher.

    Walt Whitman was born on May 31, 1819 in West Hills, New York as the second son of Walter Whitman and Louisa Van Velsor. His family was relatively poor, as his dad was a house builder and his mother was a stay at home. His family jumped between multiple houses in the Brooklyn, New York and Long Island, New York. He was the 2nd of 9 children. He grew up next to his brothers, George Washington Whitman, Andrew Jackson Whitman, Jesse Whitman, Edward Whitman, and Thomas Jefferson Whitman. His sisters were Mary Elizabeth Whitman, and Hannah Louisa Whitman. He had one other sibling, that died as an infant.

    Due to his family’s low income, his father forced him out of school and into the workforce at the age of 11. His first job was as an office boy for a Brooklyn based attorney team and eventually found employment in the printing business. At the age of 12, he began to learn the printer’s trade. Largely self-taught, he read voraciously, becoming acquainted with the works of Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, and the Bible. At 17, he became a teacher in Long Island, New York until he

    turned to journalism as his career. In 1838, he started a weekly called the Long Islander, that quickly folded. He then went back to teaching but found it boring while he loved journalism and writing.

    As an adult Walt bounced around many jobs but never settled down at one specific job. He worked for the Tattler, Daily Plebeian, the Statesman, the Mirror, the Democrat, and the Sun and the Star. In 1845 Walt moved to New Orleans and was offered a job at the New Orleans Crescent but he soon resigned and moved back to Brooklyn. He then worked for the Brooklyn Weekly Freeman which advocated for the new states to join the Union and go against slavery. In 1850-54, Walt ran a printing office, stationery store, and does freelance writing and house building. In 1862, Walt read a list of injured soldiers and found his brother on the list. As a result of this Walt traveled south in search of his brother and found him in Fredericksburg, Virginia, hardly scaved. He then found a desire to help wounded soldiers and moved to Washington D.C.. He then found a job at Department of the Interior but soon got fired after his boss read Leaves of Grass. Through the end of his life Walt suffered many strokes debilitating most of his body.

    It is obvious that Walt Whitman had great literary impact on today’s generation of writers and readers and even the readers and writers of his generation. Although he did not get the recognition that he deserved until after his death. One of Whitman’s best poems was Song of Myself. In the poem there are a lot of things happening. In the poem he invites his soul to hang out and stare at a blade of grass. He then explains how much he loves the world and especially nature stating “everything fits together as it should” and that “nature has patterns that fit together like a well built house” which Walt knows about well built houses as he built many houses along with his father. His most well renowned poem O Captain! My Captain!, was written about a sailor singing a song that praises his captain for leading the ship and the crew to the harbor after a dangerous voyage. It is then that the poem speaks of people celebrating on land and the sailor finding the captain dead. This scene is what characterizes Walt’s writing. Many people found scenes like this obscene and that is why they did not appreciate his work. Finally, there was Leaves of Grass which was a poetry collection written throughout Walt’s life. Walt Whitman has been described as the “great poet of America” by Andrew Carnegie and “America” by Ezra Pound.

    I found Walt Whitman to be a very interesting man. From what I read about him many people thought that he might be bisexual or homosexual. I also read that many people found his work very obscene. Walt did not care what other people thought and this was apparent in his writing as he wrote many strange poems. His childhood wasn’t the best as he bounced from house to house and was taken out of school at the age of 11. Even through all of this he still managed to become one of the best poets of all time. Walt passed away at the age of 72, in Camden New Jersey. His cause of death were the many strokes that he had that paralyzed his body.

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