30 Quotes from The Father of Free Verse Walt Whitman

Last updated on May 30th, 2016

30 Quotes from The Father of Free Verse Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist, journalist, and humanist.

Along with Emily Dickinson, Whitman is regarded as one of America’s most significant poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse. In addition to publishing poetry, Whitman has also worked as a journalist, a teacher, a government clerk, and a volunteer nurse during the American Civil War.

Whitman is most famous for his lifelong work on his self-published book Leaves of Grass (1855, the first of seven editions). The book was largely inspired by his travels through the American frontier and by his admiration for Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Other Whitman’s works are Franklin Evans (1842), Manly Health and Training (1858), Drum-Taps (1865), Democratic Vistas (1871), Memoranda During the War (1876), and Specimen Days (1882).


The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters is simplicity.'Preface,' Leaves of Grass (1855)


All faults may be forgiven of him who has perfect candor.'Preface,' Leaves of Grass (1855)


Re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul.'Preface,' Leaves of Grass (1855)


The whole theory of the universe is directed unerringly to one single individual — namely to You.'By Blue Ontario's Shore,' Leaves of Grass (1855)


Whatever satisfies souls is true.'Song of Prudence,' Leaves of Grass (1855)


Judging from the main portions of the history of the world, so far, justice is always in jeopardy.Democratic Vistas (1871)


Nothing endures but personal qualities.'Song of the Broad-Axe,' Calamus (1860)


I no doubt deserved my enemies but I don’t believe I deserved my friends.Century Club, 109 East 15th St., (New York July 22, 1888)


If any thing is sacred the human body is sacred.'I Sing the Body Electric,' Leaves of Grass (1855)


I exist as I am, that is enough.'Song of Myself,' Leaves of Grass (1855)


Behold, I do not give lectures or a little charity, When I give I give myself.'Song of Myself,' Leaves of Grass (1855)


Have you heard that it was good to gain the day? I also say it is good to fall, battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won.'Song of Myself,' Leaves of Grass (1855)


Have you learned lessons only of those who admired you, and were tender with you, and stood aside for you? Have you not learned the great lessons of those who rejected you, and braced themselves against you? or who treated you with contempt, or disputed the passage with you?'Stronger Lessons,' Sands at Seventy (1881)


After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, love, and so on—have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear—what remains? Nature remains.'New Themes Entered Upon,' Specimen Days (1881)


The future is no more uncertain than the present.'Song of the Broad-Axe,' Calamus (1860)


Every hour of the light and dark is a miracle, Every inch of space is a miracle.'Poem of Perfect Miracles' Leaves of Grass (1856)


Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag of me is a miracle.'Song of Myself,' Leaves of Grass (1855)


I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey work of the stars.'Song of Myself,' Leaves of Grass (1855)


The real war will never get in the books.'The Real War Will Never Get in the Books,' Specimen Days (1881)


Nothing can happen more beautiful than death.'Starting from Paumanok,' Leaves of Grass (1855)


A great city is that which has the greatest men and women, If it be a few ragged huts it is still the greatest city in the whole world.'Song of the Broad-Axe,' Calamus (1860)


The shallow consider liberty a release from all law, from every constraint. The wise man sees in it, on the contrary, the potent Law of Laws.'Freedom,' Notes Left Over (1888)


Love, that is day and night — love, that is sun and moon and stars, Love, that is crimson, sumptuous, sick with perfume, no other words but words of love, no other thought but love.'The Mystic Trumpeter,' Leaves of Grass (1855)


What do you suppose will satisfy the soul, except to walk free and own no superior?'Laws for Creations,' Leaves of Grass (1855)


To have great poets, there must be great audiences, too.'Ventures, on an Old Theme,' Notes Left Over (1888)


Produce great Persons, the rest follows.'By Blue Ontario's Shore,' Leaves of Grass (1855)


Nothing out of its place is good, nothing in its place is bad.'Starting from Paumanok,' Leaves of Grass (1855)


A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he.'Song of Myself,' Leaves of Grass (1855)


What we are we are, nativity is answer enough to objections, We wield ourselves as a weapon is wielded, We are powerful and tremendous in ourselves.'By Blue Ontario's Shore,' Leaves of Grass (1855)


Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons, It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.'Song of the Open Road,' Calamus (1860)