In 1844, Ralph Waldo Emerson called for a new poet who would reflect the spirit and potential of America. In 1855, a then-unknown poet named Walt Whitman published Leaves of Grass, his attempt to fulfill Emerson’s wish. In this episode, Jacke looks at Whitman’s early life and career, contrasting Leaves of Grass with the works of a pair of poets that Emerson may have had in mind when he railed against “men of poetical talents…of industry and skill in meter” who nevertheless failed to be what Emerson called “true poets.”
Additional listening suggestions:
- 111 The Americanest American – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- 120 The Astonishing Emily Dickinson
- 410 What Is American Literature? (with Ilan Stavans)
Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature.