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AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Walt Whitman

In this episode:

America's great poet of the people

 


This program tells poet Walt Whitman’s life story, from his working-class childhood to his years as a newspaper reporterThis program tells poet Walt Whitman’s life story, from his working-class childhood to his years as a newspaper reporter

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

Walt Whitman

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On a hot summer day in 1855, a 36-year-old writer emerged from an undistinguished printer’s shop in Brooklyn, New York, carrying a slim volume of his work. To family, friends and neighbors, Walter Whitman Jr. may have been just a too-old bachelor who lived in his parents’ attic, but as he walked the city streets that day, he knew something of himself they could not imagine. With his book of a dozen poems, Leaves of Grass, he was about to introduce America to a savior. Ominous events were on the horizon and Walt Whitman offered up his poetry and his persona as a reflection of the America he saw; it was daring, noble, naive, brutish, sexual, frightening and flawed. He hoped his work could heal a fracturing country. In his own time, his poetry was as contested as the idea of America itself. This program tells Whitman’s life story, from his working-class childhood in Long Island to his years as a newspaper reporter in Brooklyn, when he struggled to support his impoverished family, then to his reckless pursuit of the attention and affection he craved for his work, to his death in 1892 at the age of 72. visit the website...


 
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