Poet of the Body (03:05)
Walt Whitman depicted himself as casual. "Leaves of Grass" had more influence than any other poem in the 19th and 20th centuries. "I Sing the Body Electric" celebrated sensuality and the beauty of the human body.
Publishing "Leaves of Grass" (10:08)
The initial edition did not have an author's name or a table of contents. Whitman anonymously wrote favorable reviews, using press connections to promote his manuscript. Whitman printed Ralph Waldo Emerson's criticism without permission. "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" was included in the second edition.
The Bohemian Years (06:41)
Whitman spent his evenings at Charles Pfaff's beer cellar with Henry Clapp, Edwin Booth, Artemis Ward, and Ada Clare. Fred Vaughan inspired romantic poems such as "Live Oak with Moss," which became "Calamus." "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" recalled the day Whitman became a poet.
Good News from Boston (04:02)
Thayer and Eldridge offered to publish the third edition of "Leaves of Grass" with 78 new poems. "Calamus" and "Children of Adam" contained sexual content. Emerson asked Whitman for a rewrite but he refused.
U.S. Civil War (09:03)
The country learned that the Confederacy opened fire on Fort Sumter. President Lincoln asks for 75,000 men to volunteer for service. Whitman wrote "A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak" in response to tending the wounded.
"The Wound-Dresser" (11:45)
William Douglas O'Connor procured a room in Washington D.C. Whitman secured a position at the army paymaster's office and tended the wounded at night. "Memoranda: During the War" recounted his experiences at Armory Square and other hospitals.
War Volunteer (04:50)
Throughout the Civil War, Whitman made hundreds of visits to hospitals and ministered to over 80,000 soldiers. He read poetry, corresponded with family members, prayed, and catered to soldiers needs.
Whitman's Relationships (04:31)
Whitman established friendships with O'Connor and John Burroughs. Andrew Whitman died of tuberculosis and Jesse Whitman was committed to King's County Lunatic Asylum. Whitman admired President Lincoln for his beliefs.
Credits: Part Two: Becoming a Poet (1855-1864) (02:29)
Credits: Part Two: Becoming a Poet (1855-1864)
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