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It can be said that Walt Whitman is one of the most revolutionary poets during his time. Social issues such as slavery, discrimination, and war have greatly influenced his work.

His style of poetry was unconventional and was not easily accepted by a society that thrived on social norms. His work, such as Leaves of Grass, caused quite a pandemonium because of the very subjects it presented, most of which were considered taboo.

Much of Walt Whitman’s works gives the reader a glimpse of the man behind the poems that still ring true even to this day. Who was the man who has greatly influenced the world of poetry?


Early Life

Walt Whitman Quotes

Walt Whitman was born almost 200 years ago on May 31, 1819. He belonged to a big family of more than 5 children and they lived in Long Island. Later on, they moved to Brooklyn. Because of his family’s financial difficulties, Walt Whitman had to work in his younger years to help the family.

At age 11-12, he started out as a printer and it was through this job that he developed his passion for writing and reading. Walt Whitman was a bookworm and he read the Bible, Homer, Dante and even Shakespeare.

It was 5 years later that he began to work as a schoolteacher and another 5 years later that he focused on journalism as a reporter and editor in Brooklyn and New York. When he had to transfer to New Orleans to become an editor of another newspaper, he witnessed the brutality and ruthlessness of slavery. He later published his own newspaper, which was influenced by his views on the matter.


His Works

Walt Whitman Quotes

Even with the social problems of that time, Walt Whitman pursued his love for writing that he developed his own style, which strayed away from the conventional style or pattern of poems that was common during this era.

He admired Ralph Waldo Emerson, who in turn gave him praises for his first self-published work, Leaves of Grass, which went through several editions. But this was not received with welcome arms by the majority as it was unconventional, and it talked about sexuality.

Walt Whitman’s style of writing is reminiscent of poetry written in the Bible where there was no rhyming pattern.

It was in his later years that he wrote Good-Bye and My Fancy.


During the Civil War

Walt Whitman Quotes

Walt Whitman was active in helping the wounded during the civil war. His brother was a wounded soldier and Walt went to visit him. He still worked as a journalist but also spent his spare time visiting the wounded.

One admirable trait that the poet did during this time was spending his own money to cheer up the soldiers who were under depression. It was also during this time that Walt wrote Drum-Taps, which was inspired by this experience and the experience of soldiers in war.

The Leaves of Grass have caused quite an outrage that he was dismissed from the Department of Interior after the secretary found out that he was the author of the book. Because of this, a friend of his, William O’Connor, who was also a journalist, wrote The Good Gray Poet, which helped Whitman gain sympathy.


Later Years

Walt Whitman Quotes

It was in the late 1860s that Whitman received more credit for his works. But a stroke in 1872 left him half paralyzed and later went to his dying mother in Camden, New Jersey.

When she died, Walt Whitman lived with his brother and retained his position in in the attorney general’s office until 1874. He lived the rest of his life in editing and adding to his works until his death in 1892. Although born in America, he received more respect in Europe.

He was buried in a tomb which was said to be designed by himself.


His Enduring Legacy

Even with failures and difficulties along the way, Walt Whitman has endured much through his lifetime. His existence has been immortalized by his works and his life story.

Walt Whitman has inspired the literary world through his experiences, his passion, and his life in general. Even with humble beginnings, he has achieved a lot through influencing radical change in poetry and developing his own style of writing.

The good gray poet has shown his bravery in facing challenging issues and pressures from the social norms of that time by expressing his views through unconventional poetry that even with the little acceptance at first, has endured through time and still influences us greatly today.

Walt Whitman also opened the reader’s mind to self-knowledge and the individual’s awareness to his/her own body and soul. Truly, he is one of the greatest poets.

The following are some of the best  of Walt Whitman’s inspiring quotes that will make one think and analyze.

Walt Whitman Quotes

“I have learned that to be with those I like is enough.”– Walt Whitman

“Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.” – Walt Whitman

“The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.” – Walt Whitman

“Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.” – Walt Whitman

“Now I see the secret of making the best person: it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.” – Walt Whitman

“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.” – Walt Whitman

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” – Walt Whitman

“Oh while I live, to be the ruler of life, not a slave, to meet life as a powerful conqueror, and nothing exterior to me will ever take command of me.” – Walt Whitman

“I exist as I am, that is enough.” – Walt Whitman

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself.” – Walt Whitman

“Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.” – Walt Whitman

“Behold I do not give lectures or a little charity, When I give I give myself.” – Walt Whitman

“I cannot be awake for nothing looks to me as it did before, Or else I am awake for the first time, and all before has been a mean sleep.” – Walt Whitman

“After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on – have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear – what remains? Nature remains.” – Walt Whitman

“In the confusion we stay with each other, happy to be together, speaking without uttering a single word.” – Walt Whitman

“Nothing endures but personal qualities.” – Walt Whitman

“Nothing can happen more beautiful than death.” – Walt Whitman

“The whole theory of the universe is directed unerringly to one single individual.” – Walt Whitman

“Other lands have their vitality in a few, a class, but we have it in the bulk of our people.” – Walt Whitman

“Henceforth I ask not good fortune. I myself am good fortune.” – Walt Whitman

“I find no sweeter fat than sticks to my own bones.” – Walt Whitman

“Produce great men, the rest follows.” – Walt Whitman

“Freedom – to walk free and own no superior.” – Walt Whitman

“There is no week nor day nor hour when tyranny may not enter upon this country, if the people lose their roughness and spirit of defiance.” – 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?” – Walt Whitman

“The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book.” – Walt Whitman

“All faults may be forgiven of him who has perfect candor.” – Walt Whitman

 “All seems beautiful to me.” – 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?” – Walt Whitman

“Have you heard that it was good to gain the day? I also say it is good to fall, battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won.” – Walt Whitman

“A great city is that which has the greatest men and women.” – Walt Whitman

“Judging from the main portions of the history of the world, so far, justice is always in jeopardy.” – Walt Whitman

“There is that indescribable freshness and unconsciousness about an illiterate person that humbles and mocks the power of the noblest expressive genius.” – Walt Whitman

“Whoever degrades another degrades me, and whatever is done or said returns at last to me.” – Walt Whitman

“Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?” – Walt Whitman

“The future is no more uncertain than the present.”– Walt Whitman

“The beautiful uncut hair of graves.” – Walt Whitman

“To die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.” – Walt Whitman

“There is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheeled universe.” – Walt Whitman

“The words of my book nothing, the drift of it everything.” – Walt Whitman

“The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it.” – Walt Whitman

“The real war will never get in the books.” – Walt Whitman

“I heard what was said of the universe, heard it and heard it of several thousand years; it is middling well as far as it goes – but is that all?” – Walt Whitman

“Speech is the twin of my vision, it is unequal to measure itself, it provokes me forever, it says sarcastically, Walt you contain enough, why don’t you let it out then?” – Walt Whitman

“And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral dressed in his shroud.” – Walt Whitman

“To the real artist in humanity, what are called bad manners are often the most picturesque and significant of all.”– Walt Whitman

“He most honors my style who learns under it to destroy the teacher.” – Walt Whitman

“To have great poets, there must be great audiences.” – Walt Whitman

“Here or henceforward it is all the same to me, I accept Time absolutely.” – Walt Whitman

“Resist much, obey little.” – Walt Whitman

“What is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life.” – Walt Whitman

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.” – Walt Whitman

“We were together. I forget the rest.” – Walt Whitman

“Be curious, not judgmental.” – Walt Whitman

“Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour.” – Walt Whitman

“I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world.” – Walt Whitman

“Do anything, but let it produce joy.” – Walt Whitman

“Peace is always beautiful.” – Walt Whitman

“And your very flesh shall be a great poem.” – Walt Whitman

“I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake.” – Walt Whitman

“I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person.” – Walt Whitman

“These are the days that must happen to you.” – Walt Whitman

“I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contained, I stand and look at them long and long.” – Walt Whitman

“Pointing to another world will never stop vice among us; shedding light over this world can alone help us.” – Walt Whitman

“Re-examine all you have been told. Dismiss what insults your soul.” – Walt Whitman

“Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me.” – Walt Whitman

“If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.” – Walt Whitman

“If you done it, it isn’t bragging.” – Walt Whitman

“Some people are so much sunshine to the square inch.” – Walt Whitman

“And as to me, I know nothing else but miracles.” – Walt Whitman

“Battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won.” – Walt Whitman

“I am satisfied …I see, dance, laugh, sing.” – Walt Whitman

“I am larger, better than I thought; I did not know I held so much.” – Walt Whitman

“I tramp a perpetual journey.” – Walt Whitman

“A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.” – Walt Whitman

Posted by Igor Ovsyannykov

I'm a digital nomad and entrepreneur bouncing around South East Asia. When I'm not working here, I'm out taking photos for Follow me on Instagram: @igorovsyannykov

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