Walt Whitman
Father of Free Verse

Born: May 31, 1819

Died: March 26, 1892

    Born in Huntington, Long Island, Walt Whitman had many interesting and varying jobs.  He worked as a journalist, teacher, and government clerk.  He wrote poetry throughout the course of his life and while holding these jobs, one of which was a volunteer Civil War nurse.  He also wrote a novel: Franklin Evans.  Soon after, he published his largest and most monumental collection of his career: Leaves of Grass.  He then moved to Camden, New Jersey, and, after rapid health decline, died at the age of 72.

Writing Career

    One of Walt Whitman's first exposures to writing was his job as a journalist.  After his other jobs, he finally had time to relax and write, just as he wanted to.  It was in this time that he wrote Franklin Evans, which was a novel.  At that point, he stopped writing prose and began some work on poetry.  He became very popular and revered as he wrote more and more, but was criticized by his largest and most monumental work of his entire: Leaves of Grass, due to its exceeding inappropriateness.  The work was very controversial, and is still somewhat debated to this day.  Although Walt Whitman's life was clouded with many various and intense, his memory will live on as a great man of poetry.

O Captain!  My Captain!

O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:

But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain!My Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

Here captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;

Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.