Walt Whitman (American, 1819-1892)

While he also worked as a journalist and essayist in his lifetime, Whitman is today recognized as one of the most influential poets in American history. His most famous collection of poetry, Leaves of Grass, was financed entirely by Whitman and was frequently revised and republished throughout his career. Initially met with some derision for its exploration of sexual content, Leaves of Grass is today considered a landmark publication in American poetry and continues to be studied and lauded for its transformative change on the form of poetry. Whitman is also known for his strong affection for Abraham Lincoln, and two of his most famous poems, “O Captain! My Captain!” and “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,” were written in response to the president’s assassination. The medallion portrait of Whitman seen in the show commemorates the 100th anniversary of Whitman’s birthday.