Walt Whitman, A Life
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Whitman's genius, passions, poetry, and androgynous sensibility entwined to create an exuberant life amid the turbulent American mid-nineteenth century. In vivid detail, Kaplan examines the mysterious selves of the enigmatic man who celebrated the freedom and dignity of the individual and sang the praises of democracy and the brotherhood of man.
in Brooklyn, is unmarried, and ‘manages,’ Clapp says, to earn 6 or 7 dollars per week writing for the papers. He wrote a number of articles for the ‘Leader’ some time ago, on the Hospitals. . . . I do not like to believe that he can write in any other style than that of ‘Leaves of Grass.’” At Pfaff’s during the first September of the war Walt read aloud from the manuscript of a new poem that was about to be published, almost simultaneously, in the Boston Evening Transcript, the New York Leader,
be his demerit; no one can afford in literature to trade merely on his own bottom and to take no account of what other ages and nations have acquired: a great original literature America will never get in this way.” America had a long way to go, Arnold suggested, before becoming “an independent intellectual power” instead of “an intellectual colony of Europe.” Despite cheers even from Henry Clapp, who usually scoffed at exercises in hero-making, The Good Gray Poet never lived up to O’Connor’s
July 20th ’77, in the room at White Horse “good bye” Harry became dependent and forlorn. “You may say that I dont care for you,” he wrote after spending a sleepless night waiting for Walt to come back to Camden, “but I do, I think of you all the time. . . . I want you to look over the past and I will do my best to-ward you in the future. You are all the true friend I have, and when I cannot have you I will go away some ware, I don’t know where.” During the fall, although they were seeing each
cities of the eastern seaboard that June, and churchgoers in Brooklyn and New York awaited the scourge with days of fasting, prayer and humiliation. The Masque of the Red Death soon played out its familiar drama. Some victims lived only a few hours after the first warning symptoms; others dragged on through days of diarrhea and retching, dehydration and pain, their skin turning bluish-gray toward the end. At the height of the epidemic over a hundred people died each day, and nearly a third of the
stage of generativity, and he had done this, as far as one could tell, without having experienced sustained intimacy With any one person. O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about you! he told his readers in one of the new poems of 1856: Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you will be my poem, I whisper with my lips close to your ear, I have loved many women and men but I love none better than you. . . . The hopples fall from your ankles.* But the tender lover,