->''"If you are an American, then Walt Whitman is your imaginative father and mother, even if, like myself, you have never composed a line of verse."''
-->-- '''Harold Bloom'''
Walter Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet probably best known for his revolutionary book ''Literature/LeavesOfGrass''. His work has elements of transcendentalism and humanism, and his poetry greatly influenced all the poets that came after him.
Also notable because of continuing debates about his sexuality and because of the mad love Creator/TheBeatGeneration had for him and his wandering ways.
A native of [[UsefulNotes/NewYorkState Suffolk County on Long Island]] who began his career in [[UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity Brooklyn]], he is also revered as a local great in UsefulNotes/WashingtonDC (where he served during UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar as what amounted to what we would call today a hospice/palliative care nurse to Union soldiers; his recitations of poetry, including his "weird" free verse stuff, proved a great comfort to many of the wounded, maimed, and dying) and in Camden, UsefulNotes/NewJersey (where he spent his last years; they named [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walt_Whitman_Bridge one of the bridges connecting Philadelphia to New Jersey]], not far from Whitman's final home, after him).
You probably know him for his poem about UsefulNotes/AbrahamLincoln, "[[Film/DeadPoetsSociety O Captain, My Captain]]".
Whitman was a fierce proponent of democracy and egalitarianism. He was known to ride the [[OlderThanTheyThink bus]], sitting up front quoting Creator/WilliamShakespeare to the driver.
!! Works featuring Whitman as a character
* Creator/KenBurns' epic 1990 documentary ''The Civil War'' includes many observations by and stories about Whitman from his time in Washington, DC. Excerpts from Whitman's writings are narrated by Creator/GarrisonKeillor.
!!His work features these tropes:
* AmbiguouslyGay: Well, not really. The majority of scholars believe he was either this or bi. Oscar Wilde once said he made out (at least) with Whitman at his Camden home in 1882.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: "love-flesh swelling/and deliciously aching,/Limitless limpid jets of love hot and enormous, quivering jelly of/love, white-blow and delirious nice"--from "I Sing the Body Electric"ers
* GenrePopularizer: For free verse. It had been around for centuries, but Whitman is responsible for making it the dominant poetic mode of the modern era.
* WarIsHell : His writings during the Civil War era reflect his attempts to process the horrors he saw.