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284 Inspiring Quotes by Walt Whitman

  • Last updated Jun 28 2021

Welcome to our collection of quotes by Walt Whitman.

Wikipedia Summary for Walt Whitman

Walter Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist, and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse. His work was controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sensuality. Whitman's own life came under scrutiny for his presumed homosexuality.

Born in Huntington on Long Island, as a child and through much of his career he resided in Brooklyn. At age 11, he left formal schooling to go to work. Later, Whitman worked as a journalist, a teacher, and a government clerk. Whitman's major poetry collection, Leaves of Grass, was first published in 1855 with his own money and became well known. The work was an attempt at reaching out to the common person with an American epic. He continued expanding and revising it until his death in 1892.

During the American Civil War, he went to Washington, D.C. and worked in hospitals caring for the wounded. His poetry often focused on both loss and healing. On the death of Abraham Lincoln, whom Whitman greatly admired, he wrote his well known poems, "O Captain! My Captain!" and "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd", and gave a series of lectures. After a stroke towards the end of his life, Whitman moved to Camden, New Jersey, where his health further declined. When he died at age 72, his funeral was a public event.

Whitman's influence on poetry remains strong. Mary Whitall Smith Costelloe argued: "You cannot really understand America without Walt Whitman, without Leaves of Grass ... He has expressed that civilization, 'up to date,' as he would say, and no student of the philosophy of history can do without him." Modernist poet Ezra Pound called Whitman "America's poet ... He is America."

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Longer Version:

Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know.
Perhaps it is everywhere -- on water and land.


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Longer Version:

Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems, You shall possess the good of the earth and sun.... there are millions of suns left, You shall no longer take things at second or third hand.... nor look through the eyes of the dead.... nor feed on the spectres in books, You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me, You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself.


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Wisdom is not finally tested in schools, Wisdom cannot be pass'd from one having it to another not having it, Wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof, Applies to all stages and objects and qualities and is content, Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of things, and the excellence of things; Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the soul.




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Longer Version:

All truths wait in all things, They neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it.



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Longer Version:

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journeywork of the stars, And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren, And the tree toad is a chef-d'oeurve for the highest, And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven, And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery, And the cow crunching with depress'd head surpasses any statue, And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels!


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Are you the new person drawn toward me? To begin with, take warning, I am surely far different from what you suppose.



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To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle, every inch of space is a miracle, every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same, every cubic foot of the interior swarms with the same; every spear of grass-the frames, limbs, organs, of men and women, and all that concerns them, all these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.


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This is what you should do: love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men ... re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss what insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem.


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I see great things in baseball. It's our game -- the American game.


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