By Blue Ontario's Shore

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Walt Whitman (1819—1892) American poet

Albery Allson Whitman (1851—1901)


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Poem by Whitman, first published in the 1856 edition of Leaves of Grass as “Poem of Many in One.” Formed partly from the prose preface of 1855, it was reprinted in 1867 as “As I Sat Alone by Blue Ontario's Shore,” and under its present title in 1881.

At the command of a Phantom, “Chant me the poem that comes from the soul of America,” the poet sings of “These States … the amplest poem” and “the great Idea, the idea of perfect and free individuals … that is the mission of Poets.” He calls for poets freed from past conventions, coteries, schools, and religions, celebrates himself “a man before all—myself, typical before all,” and declares “These States—what are they except myself?” “Thrilled with the Power's pulsations and the charm of my theme,” he announces, “Bards for my own land, only, I invoke.”

Subjects: Literature.

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