WALT WHITMANBorn: May31, 1819West Hills, NewYorkDied: March26, 1892Camden, NewJersey
LIFE BEFORE POETRY Second of nine children. He attended school in Brooklyn until age 11. He taught school at age 17 on Long Island. He was mainly self- taught, therefore read at a young age. In 1841, he turned to journalism as a full-time career. He founded the weekly
ESSENTIAL FACTSLargely self-taught, Walt Whitmanwas living in New Yorkby age 14, supportinghimself by learning toset type.Whitman self-published Leaves ofGrass in 1855, when hewas 36 years old.
Remarkable Americanpoet. He broke all theliterary rules, discardingrhyme and form in favor offree verse, and he alsofought societal conventionby speaking fearlesslyabout hishomosexuality.His poem “O Captain! MyCaptain!” in memory ofAbraham Lincoln is one ofthe most patriotic in
Hisadmirershaveincludedeveryonefrom LordAlfred Whitman died in Camden, NewTennyson to in 1892. He designed his Jersey,Jackown tomb. It reads simply, “waltKerouac. Whitman.”
CAREER Considered to be the mostimportant American poet of thenineteenth century. His first novel, Franklin Evans. Many of his four hundred poems contain musical terms, names Themes relating to of the soul, death, and instruments, an immortality. d names of composers.
PRIZES Whitman received little acclaim during his lifetime and often struggled to support himself. He lived on a clerks salary and modest royalties, and spent any excess money, including gifts from friends, to buy suppliesfor the patients he nursed. He had also been sending money to his widowed mother and an invalid brother. From time to time writers both in thestates and in England sent him "purses" of money so that he
WALT WHITMAN AWARD Brings first-book publication, a cash prize of $5,000 A one-month residency at the Vermont Studio Center to an American who has never before published a book of poetry. The winning manuscript, chosen by an eminent poet, is published by Louisiana State University Press. The Academy purchases copies of the book for distribution to its members. The award was established in 1975 toencourage the work of emerging poets and toenable the publication of a poets first book.
O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our crowding;fearful trip is done; For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;The ship has weathered every Here Captain! dear father!rack, the prize we sought is won; This arm beneath your head;The port is near, the bells I It is some dream that on the deck,hear, the people all exulting, YOu’ve fallen COld and dead.While follow eyes the steadykeel, the vessel grim and daring: My Captain does not answer, his lipsBut O heart! heart! heart! are pale and still;O the bleeding drops of red, My father does not feel my arm, heWhere on the deck my Captain has no pulse nor will;lies, The ship is anchored safe andFallen cold and dead. sound, its voyage closed and done; From fearful trip, the victorO Captain! my Captain! rise up and ship, comes in with object won;hear the bells; Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!Rise up—for you the flag is flung— But I, with mournful tread,for you the bugle trills; Walk the deck my Captain lies,For you bouquets and ribboned Fallen cold and dead
O CAPTAIN! MYCAPTAIN!Walt Whitman wrotethe poemafter AbrahamLincolnsassassination. The"ship" spoken of isintended torepresent the UnitedStates ofAmerica, while its"fearful trip"recalls the troubles