Walt Whitman

The Miracle of Walt Whitman
March 26, 2014

THERE was a miracle in Whitman's life; we can find no other word for it. In his thirty-seventh year, the local politician and printer and failed editor suddenly be­came a world poet.

The Blooming Foreigner
November 23, 2011

“Something Urgent I Have to Say to You”: The Life and Works of William Carlos WilliamsBy Herbert Leibowitz (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 496 pp., $40)  William Carlos Williams, among the most aggressively American poets since Walt Whitman, was born in Rutherford, New Jersey, in 1883, to a Puerto Rican mother and an English father, neither of whom bothered to become American citizens after their transplantation from the Caribbean to the poisonous industrial marshes west of Manhattan.

Heart Music
May 16, 2005

Fred Hersch, Leaves of Grass (Palmetto) First published 150 years ago this summer, Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass was always a work in progress--or a series of works that varied in character and grew exponentially in size over more than three decades, until the poet's death in 1892. The first edition, first published one hundred fifty years ago this July and something of a vanity project manufactured with typesetting assistance from Whitman himself, presented a dozen poems on ninety-five pages. The second, published fourteen months later, contained thirty-two poems.

The Air Around Tom Paine
April 24, 1995

Thomas Paine: Collected Writings edited by Eric Foner (The Library of America, 906 pp., $35) Thomas Paine: Apostle of Freedom by Jack Fruchtman Jr. (Four Walls Eight Windows, 557 pp., $30) Thomas Paine: A Political Life by John Keane (Little, Brown, 644 pp., $27.95) I. Every twenty-ninth of January, Thomas Paine's admirers assemble at his old farm in New Rochelle, New York, to celebrate his birthday and to lay a wreath on his monument.