Romanticism: Walt Whitman

Literature and the Arts

What was the Romantic Period?

The Romantic period of history was an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement of the 19th century. This movement originated in Europe at the end of the 18th century and was at its peak between 1800 and 1850. This time period resulted in many advances in art and literature from many different artists such as Walt Whitman, Edgar Allen Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Romantic Era ushered in more expressive art and saw a shift from faith in religion to faith in ones senses, feelings, and emotions.

Who was Walt Whitman?

Walter Whitman was an American poet, essayist, and journalist. Born May 31, 1819 living until he was 72, he died on March 26, 1892. As a humanist, his works included ideas from both transcendentalism and realism and were an integral part of the transition between the two. Considered the "father of free verse" Walt Whitman was one of the most influential poets of American Romanticism. Many of his works were extremely controversial at the time, often being considered obscene. Whitman attempted to write for the American common man. His work often included political issues as he was very interested and involved in politics during his life.

Walt Whitman's most Famous works

Walt Whitman always delved into deeper subjects that were often times considered controversial and could potentially be inappropriate as well. In an attempt to write from the common mans' position, Whitman had trouble reaching people as he was sometimes too blunt in his topics: however, he was a strong writer who, despite being blunt at times, still wrote with prolific imagery and deeper meaning.

Much of what Whitman wrote was still democratic and was his personal view of the young America growing up around him, as well. Some of Whitman's later works (post-Civil War) become darker and more suppressed as he questions the place of poetry and emotion itself in America.