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American BardsWalt Whitman and Other Unlikely Candidates for National Poet$
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Edward Whitley

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834213

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807899427_whitley

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Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

An American, One of the Roughs, a Kosmos

(p.155) Chapter Four Walt Whitman
American Bards

Edward Whitley

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines how Walt Whitman fulfilled the duties of the American bard right after giving the title to himself. It begins by considering “A Broadway Pageant,” a poem written by Whitman in the summer of 1860, and situating it within his antebellum career, and goes on to discuss Whitman's association with New York City's working-class “roughs” and his insistence that his poetry is explicitly cosmopolitan in nature. After outlining Whitman's struggles to resolve the tension between his patriotism and his cosmopolitanism, the chapter explains how “A Broadway Pageant” enabled him to articulate his antebellum identity as “Walt Whitman, an American, one of the roughs, a kosmos.” It then offers a reading of Calamus, a collection of forty-five poems that first appeared in the 1860 Leaves of Grass, and, finally, analyzes how Whitman turned the social stigma of his homosexuality into a template for national unity.

Keywords:   poetry, Walt Whitman, American bard, New York City, roughs, patriotism, cosmopolitanism, Calamus, Leaves of Grass, homosexuality

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