Well, Walt Whitman has been on my mind this week. He was such a good soul. He never had an unkind word for people, even those he opposed. He embraced all people, even those from the South, though he was staunchly against slavery and supported the Union as a nurse to the wounded during the Civil War. Last year I completely read his Death-Bed edition of Leaves of Grass, all 500 plus pages. Leaves of Grass, first published in 1855, was his great work that he kept republishing with additional poems. I think there were up to nine editions of publications, with the concluding edition dubbed "The Death-Bed" edition because it went into publication just prior to Whitman's death. With each addition Whitman added and revised the poems, but unfortunately not all the revisions were improvements. Sometimes the original poem is superior. What I really like about Whitman was how he embraced humanity. He loved everyone.
proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has
In his life time he was not appreciated. That really disappointed him. He loved the United States, and you can see that in many of his poems. He was consciously the poet of America, embracing the land, the people, the life-style of his day, and most importantly the particular English language we call the American language. He did for the American language what Shakespeare did for British English and Dante did for Italian. He became our national poet. It took a while, but after his death the country did embrace him as he embraced the country.
By the way, he was frequently photographed in his lifetime. There are lots of great photos of him. It was hard to pick one.