Born May 31, 1819
Westhills, Long Island
- Walt Whitman was born in Westhills, Long Island, May 31, 1819 in a farm-house overlooking the sea. He and his parents moved to Brooklyn when he was young and when he was thirteen years old he learned type-setting. Two years later he taught a country school and contributed to the "Democratic Review" before he was twenty-one. He traveled through the Western States at thirty and spent one year in New Orleans editing a paper. He took up his father's work of carpenter and builder when he returned home and followed it for a while. During the War of the Rebellion he spent most of his time in the hospitals and camps, in the relief of the sick and disabled soldiers and was a department clerk in Washington for a while.
- In 1856 he published a volume entitled "Leaves of Grass" which shows unquestionable power, and great originality. His labors among the sick and wounded necessarily made of great impressions; these took form in his mind and were published under the title of "Drum Taps." His poems lack much of the standard of recognized poetic measure, but he has a style peculiar to himself, and his writings are full of meaning, beauty and interest. Of his productions, Underwood says: "Pupils who are accustomed to associate the idea of poetry with regular classic measure in rhyme, or in ten-syllabled blank verse or elastic hexameters, will commence these short and simple prose sentences with surprise, and will wonder how any number of them can form a poem. But let them read aloud with a mind in sympathy with the picture as it is displayed, and they will find by nature's unmistakable responses, that the author was a poet, and possessed the poet's incommunicable power to touch the heart." He died in Camden, N. J., March 20, 1892.
- To You by Walt Whitman
- STRANGER! if you, passing, meet me, and desire to speak to me, why should you
not speak to me?
And why should I not speak to you?