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Walt Whitman 1819-1892 American poet whose work boldly asserts the worth of the individual and the oneness of all humanity Whitmans defiant break with traditional poetic concerns and style exerted a major influence on American thought and literature Born near Huntington New York Whitman was the second of a family of nine children His father was a carpenter The poet had a particularly close relationship with his mother When Whitman was four years old his family moved to Brooklyn New York where he attended public school for six years before being apprenticed to a printer Two years later he went to New York City to work in printing shops He returned to Long Island in 1835 and taught in country schools In 1838 and 1839 Whitman edited a newspaper the Long Islander in Huntington When he became bored with the job he went back to New York City to work as a printer and a journalist There he enjoyed the theatre the opera and always an omnivorous reader in the libraries Whitman wrote poems and stories for popular magazines and made political speeches for which Tammany Hall Democrats rewarded him with the editorship of various short-lived newspapers For two years Whitman edited the influential Brooklyn Eagle bu t he lost his position for supporting the Free-Soil party After a brief sojourn in New Orleans Louisiana he returned to Brooklyn where he tried to start a Free Soil newspaper After several years spent at various jobs including building houses Whitman began writing a new kind of poetry and thereafter neglected business Whitman died in 1892 leaving a legacy of literary genius We are still only discovering Whitman today His notebooks are prized possessions of libraries fortunate to have discover them or have them donated to them The latest to be discovered is a manuscript believed to have been an introduction to Leaves of Grass found in November of 1997 Although we may never find all of
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