Segments in this Video

Walt Whitman's Childhood (04:31)


Whitman was born on Long Island on May 31, 1819. "There Was a Child who Went Forth" captured is reverence for nature. Emily Dickinson and Whitman were the first poets who wrote about consciousness and identity after Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Whitman Family (03:08)

The family changed homes annually. The Marquis de Lafayette rode up Fulton Street to lay a cornerstone at the new library. Teachers were strict at District School Number One; Whitman left school at age 11 to help support his family.

Whitman's Early Work (03:17)

Whitman worked at a law firm, at the "Long Island Star," and as a typesetter. After his family returned to farming, Whitman frequently visited the theater to watch Julius Brutus Booth. The Great Fire of 1835 destroyed the newspaper industry in New York City.

Teacher and Newspaperman (05:05)

Whitman taught the children of local farmers' and refused to use corporal punishment. "When I Heard the Learned Astronomer" expressed his belief that learning from books should never overshadow actual experience. Whitman found business partners and produced "The Long-Islander.”Whitman found business partners. He produced "The Long-Islander," writing, editing, and delivering the newspapers to farms across Huntington.

Whitman's Move to New York (04:41)

"Franklin Evans, or "The Inebriate" advocated temperance and became Whitman's best selling novel during his lifetime. He wrote for "The Aurora," "The Statesman," "Evening Tattler," "Democrat," and "Mirror." Edgar Allen Poe owned "The Broadway Journal."

Ralph Waldo Emerson's Influence (04:44)

Whitman felt as if Emerson addressed him personally during a reading. He wrote about baseball for "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle." The telegraph revolutionized the speed of news. Whitman expressed opposition to the newspaper owner's beliefs on slavery.

The Crescent City (07:18)

J.E. McClure offered Whitman an editorial position in New Orleans. The Mexican-American War was controversial. Whitman explored his feelings on the slave trade in "I Sing the Body Electric." He joined the "Free Soil" party and supported Martin Van Buren for president.

Simmering (10:03)

The Whitmans lived together in a small house on Myrtle Avenue and operated a printing and construction business. Whitman made hospital visits to comfort injured Omnibus drivers. Marietta Alboni inspired passages of "Song of Myself"; Whitman incorporated elements of romanticism and realism.

The Enduring Mystery of Walt Whitman's Poetry (19:15)

In June 1853, Whitman had a transcendent experience that imbued his poetry with profound spiritual wisdom. "Song of Myself" expressed the role of the observer, one's identity, and God. Whitman wrote about the entire country and viewed people with equality.

Credits: Part One: The Early Years (1819-1855) (02:11)

Credits: Part One: The Early Years (1819-1855)

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Part One: The Early Years (1819-1855)

Part of the Series : In Search of Walt Whitman
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Walt Whitman rises from a hardscrabble boyhood in New York to write Leaves of Grass in 1855; a work that revolutionizes poetry. This episode explores the mystery of how a seemingly ordinary writer, with little education or training, could have created such a literature-altering masterpiece. Many of Whitman’s most famous poems are profiled, including There Was a Child Went Forth, I Hear America Singing, Song of the Open Road, I Sing the Body Electric, and Song of Myself.

Length: 65 minutes

Item#: BVL210885

Copyright date: ©2020

Closed Captioned

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