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Walt Whitman

(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892 / New York / United States)

Quotations

  • ''Rugged, mountainous, volcanic, he was himself more a French revolution than any of his volumes.''
    Walt Whitman (1819-1892), U.S. poet. Specimen Days (Feb. 10, 1881).
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  • ''I will put in my poems, that with you is heroism, upon land and sea—And
    I will report all heroism from an American point of view.''
    Walt Whitman (1819-1892), U.S. poet. Starting From Paumanok, sct. 7.
  • ''And I will show that nothing can happen more beautiful than death.''
    Walt Whitman (1819-1892), U.S. poet. Starting From Paumanok, sct. 13.
  • ''I never see that man without feeling that he is one to become personally attach'd to, for his combination of purest, heartiest tenderness, and native western form of manliness.''
    Walt Whitman (1819-1892), U.S. poet. "The Inauguration," March 4, 1865, Specimen Days and Collect (1882).
  • ''The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it.''
    Walt Whitman (1819-1892), U.S. poet. Leaves of Grass, preface (1855).
  • ''The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.''
    Walt Whitman (1819-1892), U.S. poet. Leaves of Grass, preface (1855).
  • ''There is that indescribable freshness and unconsciousness about an illiterate person that humbles and mocks the power of the noblest expressive genius.''
    Walt Whitman (1819-1892), U.S. poet. Leaves of Grass, preface (1855).
  • ''The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem.''
    Walt Whitman (1819-1892), U.S. poet. Leaves of Grass, preface (1855).
  • ''As soon as histories are properly told there is no more need of romances.''
    Walt Whitman (1819-1892), U.S. poet. Leaves of Grass, preface (1855).
  • ''To have great poets, there must be great audiences too.''
    Walt Whitman (1819-1892), U.S. poet. "Ventures on an Old Theme," Notes Left Over (1881). This motto adorned the front of Poetry magazine and was the object of the vitriolic disapproval of Ezra Pound, who, in 1914, wrote in the pages of the magazine: "The artist is not dependent on the multitude of his listeners.... This rabble, this multitude—does not create the great artist. They are aimless and drifting without him." See also Ezra Pound's remark under "the arts."

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Song of Myself, LII

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering.

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow'd wilds,
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

[Hata Bildir]