Walt Whitman [1819-1892] Is possibly the most influential American poet of his era and his volume ‘Leaves of Grass’ [first published 1848 and expanded in later volumes] has been the inspiration for untold numbers of other fine poets
In the autumn of 1848 Walt Whitman copyrighted the first edition of Leaves of Grass, which contained twelve poems,(each of which was untitled),and a preface which he published himself.
A second edition of the book was later published in 1856, now containing thirty three poems and the copy of a letter he had received from Emerson praising the first edition, he later went on to publish several more editions.
In 1862, during the civil war he traveled to Washington D.C. to care for his brother who had been wounded, after seeing so many wounded in Washington Whitman decided to stay and work in the hospitals, a stay which lasted for eleven years. He had taken a job as a clerk to the Department of the Interior until being fired by the secretary of the Interior, who had found Leaves of Grass offensive.
Whitman struggled finacially throughout his life, with much of his salary, modest royaltiees and even gifts and purses from other poets on aid supplies for the patients he cared for and his mother and injured brother.
Early in 1870 whilst visiting his dying mother at his brothers house in Camden he suffered a stroke which prevented his return to Washinton D.C.
He remained, living with his brother until 1882 when his latest publication of Leaves of Grass earned him enough money to buy a house in Camden where he remained revising and adding to a new edition of his book and creating Good-bye, My Fancy (1891) his final volume of poetry and prose.
Whitman died on 26th March 1892, and was laid to rest in Harleigh Cemetery in a tomb he designed himself and had built prior to his death.
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou
Night, sleep, death and the stars.