“the rhythms of urban life and of the people who made their way across its mean streets, just as he was the first American poet to replace starchy postures with an open-throated acceptance of quotidian life as it really was. He was the self-proclaimed poet of the near-at-hand and the far away, “the foolish as much as the wise” that his poetic inventory struck at deeper truths than bean-counting and social protest.” (Pinsker, 1999, p.717)
In conclusion, it is apt to say that Walt Whitman has made profound contributions to the formation of the American identity. Not only was he appreciative of what is admirable in the American character, but was also critical of its failings. For example, his poems such as Passage to India invoke Eastern spiritualism as a protest against the blatant materialism he saw among his countrymen. He was also not unsurely optimistic about his country’s future course. In the aftermath of the Civil War, when the nation’s unity was shaken to the core, he lamented the state of affairs and also expressed his concern for the country’s future. This is most evident in the 1881 edition of the Leaves of Grass, as this version is regarded by critics as the post-Reconstruction edition of the monumental work. But both in his appreciation and criticism of his country’s identifying character, he emerges as its most passionate patriot. (Pannapacker, 2004, p.45)
Barrett, Faith. “Addresses to a Divided Nation: Images of War in Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman.” The Arizona Quarterly 61.4 (2005): 67+.
Pannapacker, William. Revised Lives: Walt Whitman and Nineteenth-Century Authorship. New York: Routledge, 2004.
Pinsker, Sanford. “Walt Whitman and Our Multicultural America.” The Virginia Quarterly Review 75.4 (1999): 716+.
Schramm, Geoffrey Saunders. “Whitman’s Lifelong Endeavor: Leaves of Grass at 150.” Humanities July-Aug. 2005: 24+.