Skip to main content Skip to main content

Voices & Visions

Walt Whitman

Brilliant readings of Whitman's poems demonstrate his American vision and style and vividly convey their poignance and sheer power. Whitman's sources, including Emerson, the King James Bible, opera, and political oratory, are revealed.

View Transcript

Walt Whitman was the first major poet to create a truly American vision and style. His extraordinary example gave American verse much of its subsequent character and diction. Rejecting traditional constraints of form and subject matter, Whitman considered democracy itself appropriate grist for his own poetic mill, inventing a radically different sort of free verse to express what he had to say.

Additional Resources

Library of Congress: Poet at Work

Who stole Whitman’s butterfly? We may never know, but you can view the famous cardboard butterfly and four of Whitman’s notebooks (all returned a half century after they disappeared from the Library of Congress) at the Library’s “Poet at Work” site.

Columbia University’s Bartleby Archive: Walt Whitman

Read Leaves of Grass, other poems, prose works, and quotations at Columbia University’s Bartleby Archive.

The Walt Whitman Hypertext Archive

Study Whitman in an ultra-modern hypermedia environment. This site provides digitized images of original documents, transcriptions of the documents, and an elaborate body of introductions, commentaries, and other material useful in interpreting Whitman’s works.

Walt Whitman and the Development of Leaves of Grass

“It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself.” Trace the growth of Leaves of Grass from the first edition of 1855 to the “Deathbed Edition” of 1891-92 at the University of South Carolina’s Whitman site.