Walt Whitman (1819-1892) is America’s world poet — a latter-day successor to Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Shakespeare. In his Leaves of Grass, first published in 1855 and revised and expanded for the rest of his life, he celebrated democracy, nature, love, and friendship. This monumental work chanted praises to the body as well as to the soul, and found beauty and reassurance even in death.
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
-by Walt Whitman