Walt Whitman

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Walt Whitman was born on May 31, 1819 in Long Island, New York. He was influenced greatly by Shakespeare and Abraham Lincoln. He was mostly self-taught because he was pulled from public school to support his family. Whitman spent many years of his life traveling back and forth from his home and New York City. Whitman supported a number of issues, such as "Americanism" in literature and the importance of the common man. He lived during the American Renaissance which greatly influenced him and many other writers at the time. Walt Whitman learned many lessons of life by his parents. He remained devoted to his family throughout his life. Whitman is today claimed as one of the few truly great American men of letters.

The poems: "O Captain! O Captain!", "O Me! O Life!" and "Song of Myself" are three of his poems. They are connected by Whitman's questions about life and how he goes about his life, his inspirations, and love.

"O Captain! O Captain!" was one of Walt Whitman's greatest poems that Lincoln's death had inspired him to write it but later regretted it due to his emotions. Captain was another name for Abraham Lincoln in this poem. The ship was another name for the United States of America. The repetition in this poem shows the disappointment and shock that his captain has died. Whitman also calls his captain his father for the first time towards the end of the poem and shows the defeat his captain has come to when he dies. He has to look up to the reality of his father's death and must accept it. Although Whitman rejoices that it is the end of the Civil War, he still is mourning over his captain's death.

"O Me! O Life!" Whitman tries to explain how we should express our individuality instead of following the crowd. Life is the greatest gift God can give us and we should live life to the fullest and not take things for granted. According to Hugh Fausset I'Anson, when disappointment and dejection settled on Walt Whitman, he could stand up to it manfully, as when in 'O Me! O Life!' he viewed the faithlessness of cities, filled with the foolish, and himself the most foolish and faithless.

"Song of Myself" influenced Walt Whitman when he got a job that would involve nursing the wounded. "O despairer, here is my neck, /By God! You shall not go down! Hang your whole weight upon me." These lines describe how he had always strained himself on the brotherhood of man. He would work at his job in the morning and visit hospitals in the afternoon; he therefore got together a few close friends with the men he nursed. According to Joel Myerson, "As Walt Whitman puts it in the first lines of the first poem, "Song of Myself": "I celebrate myself, / And what I assume you shall assume, / For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you." Myerson states that this is the most important poem in the volume, Leaves of Grass, the one in which the Whitman persona--the large-scale poet as liberating god--first takes form.

Therefore, the poems, "O Captain! O Captain!", "O Me! O Life!" and "Song of Myself" are connected in the ways that Walt Whitman thinks about life. He writes about his hero's that influenced him greatly to write. Whitman realizes that he has to live life to the fullest without any regrets. He has to move on from his loses like his 'captain' or Abraham Lincoln. Whitman was very devoted to his writing and his family whom he loved a lot. Walt Whitman passed away on March 26, 1892, the cause of death was miliary tuberculosis, with other contributing factors Walt Whitman is known to be singing on life and himself.