Walt Whitman, a famous American poet, was born on May 31, 1819 in the West Hills of Long Island, New York. His mother’s name was Loisia Van Velsor, of Dutch descent., and amazingly could not read very well, if at all. His dad was an English carpenter who probably could not read his son’s poetry. His parent’s family consisted of nine children, four of whom had disabilities.

His start in literature came when, at the age of 12, he was withdrawn from school to work as a printer. At this time he began to learn to love reading books. He read whenever he could and was self taught. When he was seventeen, he became a teacher in a small school. Five years later he took a job as a journalist and was the editor of many New York papers. He studied the French language, and many of his poems contain French words.

When he traveled to the New Orleans, he witnessed slavery which in turn “helped him write his poems” according to Walt Whitman. Between 1848 and 1855 he developed the style of poetry he is known for. In 1891 he finished the 30 years of constant writing; it took him to write the book Leaves of Grass. The Leaves of Grass basically was his life’s work and contained 400 poems.

He is known as a poet for the Leaves of Grass. An interesting fact: his opening poem in the Leaves of Grass tells about how he knows he will die soon. It says that “I have walked the roads you will walk” which is telling about how he once was alive just like us. It is a poem that remembers him and speaks to future generations.

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