Whitman was the poet of the new-born American democracy
Key Words: prophet of democracy, Whitman, grass as a symbol, a crusade, establishment of a new order of society, an American spokesman
'I celebrate myself, and sing myself ...' Leaves of Grass, 'Song of Myself,'
The civil war proved a turning-point in the political and literary history of America. The nation ushered in a new era of modern reconstruction. Very suitably the period following it may be regarded as the period of the beginning of modern American literature, which flowered in a fresh and free atmosphere. The writer generally broke away from the past practices. Amongst others, Walt Whitman was one of the singers of the American nation and people in poetry. He struck certain technical innovations, which are briefly to be discussed here, and which made him immediately the poet of modernity, modern age, its customs, scenes and occurrences. It is in this sense that he was a modern poet. Whitman issued the first edition of Leaves of Grass (1855) which is far different from sentimental rhymed verses and where he immodestly praised the human body and glorified the senses. In a long preface he announced a new democratic literature, “commensurate with a people,” simple and unconquerable, written by a new kind of poet who was affectionate, brawny, and heroic and who would lead by the force of his magnetic personality.