Saturday, July 4, 2009


Whitman refused, as a rule, to employ regular rhythms. Although his poem in conventional meter, “O Captain! My Captain!” is his most popular. His verse is not rhymed, and the line lengths are not metrical units, but units corresponding to the cadences of oral delivery.

Between 1857 and 1859, Whitman was an editor of The Brooklyn Daily Times. When the Civil War began, Whitman became a volunteer nurse in Washington, supporting himself by reporting for various newspapers and by working part time in an army paymaster’s office. After the war, he worked in the attorney general’s office.

Drum Taps, based on his war experiences, was published in 1865. Although he was never in actual combat, some scholars have called him, with some justification, “a war-born poet” because he drew so much from the soldiers he met.

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