There are six editions of the book (nine, if you count different type-settings).
As soon as one was published Whitman would revise, regroup and add to the poems, treating the published book as a manuscript to be edited and republished.
They are alive and well somewhere, The smallest sprout shows there is really no death […] All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses, And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
In this passage the grass signifies equality, by making no distinction where it grows.
Whitman enjoyed this different culture, but never lost his horror of slave auctions.
On learning his brother George might have been injured during the Civil War, Whitman travelled to Washington DC and Fredericksburg, Virginia, to look for him.We don’t know how or why Whitman began to invent his extraordinary poetry.In 1842 he listened to “The Poet”, a lecture in which philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson called for a national bard who could write about the US in all its diversity.He took the opportunity of having the best compositors, the Rome brothers, typeset his poems, and he supervised the work closely, revising his poetry to fit the page. The book’s long non-rhyming lines are reminiscent of bible verses.Each seems to correspond with a single breath or a single gesture.[…] What do you think has become of the young and old men?And what do you think has become of the women and children?Having had some success – a novel and newspaper pieces – he became chief editor of the Brooklyn Eagle, but lost this position when his opposition to the spread of slavery clashed with the views of the newspaper’s owner.Luckily, an opportunity arose to work on a newspaper in New Orleans.Celebrations will be especially joyful around his birthday on May 31 and in New York City, whose citizens were often depicted in his poems.But the poetry many people now love won him notoriety before it won him fame. He was born in 1819 and grew up in and around Brooklyn, moving often as his family tried to make money from farming and real estate. He worked by turns in Manhattan and Brooklyn as a printer’s apprentice, a schoolteacher and a newspaper publisher, before resolving to become a writer.