It was often said of Walt Whitman that his beard attracted butterflies. I can only imagine this must have been true. Can't you just picture him, walking down the busy streets, multi-colored, diaphonous wings flitting about his head?
Whitman revolutionized poetry, giving it a uniquely American voice. His poetic form is called "parallelismus membrorum," which is, according to the poet Galway Kinnell, "the use of repetitions of thought, patterns, syntax, word order, rhythmic structure, words, phrases, clauses, or whatever in consecutive lines."
At the age of twenty-five, he made a brief sojourn to New Orleans where he was exposed to slavery and the auction block for the first time. His employer fired him upon learning of his negative views of slavery, an unfortunate staple of the South that still makes me cringe to this day. His poem "I Sing the Body Electric" incorporated his witness of a slave auction ...