Walt Whitman addressed his poetry to “Americanos [. . .] a new race dominating previous ones and grander far, with new contests, / New politics, new literatures and religions, new inventions and arts”. His aim was nothing less than a redefinition of Love and Democracy as fundamental principles of a new religion. He declared himself “the bard of personality”, “the poet of the Body and . . . the Soul”, and “the poet of the woman the same as the man”. He also warned, “I am not the poet of goodness only, I do not decline to be the poet of wickedness also”, and “I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard, / Nature without check with original energy”. It was his exuberant disdain for all restraint, his frank sensuality, his egotism, his irreverence…

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Citation: Meats, Stephen E.. "Walt Whitman". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 September 2004 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=4702, accessed 29 February 2024.]

4702 Walt Whitman 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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