Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge
Walt Whitman was a bigger self-promoter than Don King (boxing reference…anyone? Anyone?). After Leaves of Grass was published, he wrote anonymous reviews of his own collection, including one in which he wrote, "You have come in good time, Walt Whitman!" (source).
Boston was the only American city to ban Leaves of Grass for indecency (source).
Whitman remains controversial. Recently, a protest was staged at Walt Whitman High School in Maryland to protest the poet's reputed sexual orientation…more than a hundred years after he died (source).
The Irish writer Oscar Wilde, author of The Picture of Dorian Gray, made a pilgrimage to see the aging Whitman when he visited the United States. After they met, Wilde bragged to a friend, "I have the kiss of Walt Whitman still on my lips" (source)
The American novelist Henry James – another great writer – hated Whitman's poetry. Like, seriously hated. In a review of Whitman's Civil War collection Drum Taps, he wrote that, "To become adopted as a national poet, it is not enough to . . . discharge the undigested contents of your blotting-book into the lap of the public" (source).