The American poet and journalist, Walt Whitman, was one of the most influential writers of the 19th century and is often hailed as one of the fathers of free verse. Despite his literary greatness, it wasn’t until he began to receive critical acclaim that he was recognised as an accomplished poet. During his lifetime and subsequent years, Walt Whitman received several awards and accolades that helped to cement his reputation as a genius of American literature.
Whitman’s most renowned work, Leaves of Grass, was published in the year 1855. The book was groundbreaking and attracted numerous awards. In 1860 Whitman was granted a Guggenheim Fellowship which allowed him to travel to Washington D.C. in order to publish a newspaper devoted to the rival abolitionist cause. The fellowship award was recognition of his literary expertise and influence on society.
Whitman was greatly admired by fellow writers and poets such as William Carlos Williams and Allen Ginsberg, and he had a great influence on their writings. This influence was further recognized when Whitman was the recipient of the Walt Whitman citation from the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1954. Thus, it came as no surprise that when in 1959 he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature, despite not winning, it served as a testament to Walt Whitman’s extraordinary contribution to American literature.
In 1962, Whitman was presented with the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. The Italian government officially recognized his lasting legacy and legacy of working in the fields of philosophy, language and poetics. Moreover, on the 2013 centennial of the first US edition of ‘Leaves of Grass’, a commemorative stamp featuring his likeness was issued in the celebrations.
Whitman also has a number of memorials in his honour. For example, one of the London Underground’s station is adorned with a plaque that reads, “From this station to the world, Walt Whitman”. Furthermore, the Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site was created in Huntington, New York to commemorate his birth and works. The site serves both as a museum and as a national landmark.
Despite his death in 1892, Walt Whitman’s legacy lives on. His works have been translated into otherwise and branched out beyond poetry into philosophical works and literary criticism. In 2019, the Poetry Foundation presented a lifetime achievement award in recognition of Whitman’s writing and influence. It’s safe to say that Walt Whitman will continue to live on in the hearts of readers and literature lovers alike.
Whitman’s Impact on Students
Walt Whitman’s influence on the world of literature is widely known and remains felt to this day. His groundbreaking work ‘Leaves of Grass’ changed the way poetry is written and opened up the door for generations of writers to come. For many students, this novel marks the beginning of their love for poetry. Whitman’s creative spirit and revolutionary ideas spurred many to pursue creative writing as a career.
Perhaps one of the most profound examples of Whitman’s impact on students is the Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland. The school is a fitting tribute to the beloved poet and even offers classes in creative writing. Numerous students cite Whitman’s work as the inspiration and motivation they needed to complete their school projects and also sharpen their own writing skills. This is especially true of literature students who get to undergo an in-depth study of Whitman’s prolific and highly influential writings.
The National Endowment for the Arts, founded by the US Congress in 1965, also presented Whitman with the Medal of Arts. The award serves to recognize the significant influence of Whitman’s creative works and the meaningful impact it has had on generations of students and readers. Furthermore, the United States Postal Service issue a Walt Whitman commemorative stamp in 1993 to collect funds for the benefit of the humanities.
The power of Whitman’s works and the sheer genius of his vision is undeniable. He is an idol for every aspiring and even established authors and poets. His imprint often echoes in the works of many. Whitman’s influence is so significant that several libraries and other establishments related to his works and memory are sometimes referred to as ‘Whitmania’.
Whitman in Popular Culture
Whitman was born during a time of great change in American culture. His works and writings reflect the struggle, unrest and hope that existed in the United States at the time. As such, his work has been used in popular culture to capture the spirit of the American people, and even to convey messages of hope and progress.
His poems have been featured in movies and television. One of the most famous examples is his poem ‘Oh Me! Oh Life!’ which is featured in the movie “Dead Poets Society” (1989). In the movie, the poem is used to convey the inner struggle of a student who is questioning the value of life and the expectations that is put upon him.
Whitman’s works have also been used in music. For example, U2 singer Bono used lines from Whitman’s poem ‘Song of Myself’ in the lyrics of their 2004 single ‘Vertigo’. Similarly, indie rock band The Decemberists have been known to reference Walt Whitman in their songs.
Whiltman’s work is also featured prominently in literature. One of the most famous references is found in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel ‘The Great Gatsby’. In the novel, Jay Gatsby famously uses Whitman’s poem ‘Come Up From the Fields Father’ in an attempt to show his love for Daisy Buchanan.
It is clear that Walt Whitman’s genius is highly revered and respected throughout popular culture. Scores of musicians, poets and artists have paid homage to Whitman throughout the years. His work will no doubt continue to inspire generations to come.
The Legacy of Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman was a modern master of poetry whose work continues to live on in the hearts of readers around the world. He was the first poet to embrace free verse and wrote about themes such as democracy, equality, and the love of the natural world. His work is revolutionary, inspiring and moving. He used his words to express his knowledge and admiration of the world around him. He believed that everyone has the potential to be an artist, and this is why he is so beloved by those who champion the literary arts.
Whitman embraced innovation and was unafraid to blaze a new trail. His work has been studied and analysed by countless experts and academics and it has had a huge influence on both the art of poetry and politics. He was a master at conveying the beauty of the world around him and expressing feelings and emotions in a way that resonates with readers to this day.
Whitman’s influence can be felt in a variety of forms. He wrote about art, the nature of man, revolutionary ideas and the beauty of life. He wrote scathing political diatribes and tender love poems. He wrote from the perspective of an observer, an idealist and a revolutionary. His style and language remain unique and his insights into the human condition still resonate with readers today.
Walt Whitman has left an indelible mark on the literary world. His work is celebrated and admired around the world. He was a brave and innovative poet who wasn’t afraid to challenge the status quo with his writings. His work has been hailed as a masterpiece and his legacy lives on in the hearts of readers.
Criticism of Walt Whitman
Despite the general admiration surrounding Walt Whitman’s works, there is also criticism that surrounds him and his writings. Whitman was often accused of narcissism and arrogance as well as being overly verbose and meandering. His poetry was often criticized for being impenetrable and sometimes confusing.
Several scholars have questioned his depiction of the natural world, seen in numerous works such as ‘Song of Myself’ and ‘Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking’. Critics such as Frank Kermode and Allen Ginsberg argued that his descriptions of nature are often exaggerated and idealized and can be seen as too symbolic or even unreal.
Furthermore, Whitman was also scrutinized for his representation of women. In his poems, women are often seen as objects of desire or sex symbols and his characters often engage in activities which can be seen as vulgar and demeaning. His lack of sensitivity was frequently criticized by scholars who argued that he was out of touch with the times.
In addition, Walt Whitman was also accused of plagiarism in many of his poems. His poem ‘Dead Poets’ has particularly been the focus of such criticism. This did not stop him from receiving awards and accolades during his lifetime, nor did it diminish the lasting impact of his works.
Walt Whitman was a poet and journalist whose lasting impression is still felt to this day. His writings were revolutionary and groundbreaking, and he was the first to embrace free verse. He received numerous awards during his lifetime, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the National Institute of Arts and Letters Walt Whitman citation. Additionally, popular culture has embraced his works and the impressions left behind by them remain powerful. However, the icon that is Walt Whitman wasn’t without criticism and it didn’t stop him from becoming a respected giant of American literature.