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Walt Whitman: Death

In January 1873, Whitman suffered the first of several strokes, which he called "whacks." 19 The stroke left him partially paralyzed. Four months after his stroke, his mother Louisa died. Whitman moved in with his brother George in Camden, New Jersey, the town that would be his home for the rest of his life. In 1884, he bought a house on Camden's Mickle Street.

He suffered his second stroke in 1888. Because of his health, he was largely confined to his home, causing neighborhood kids to warn each other that if you went in to creepy Old Man Whitman's house, you'd never come back out. 20 Though his body was incapacitated, his mind was not. In January 1892, he prepared the final edition of Leaves of Grass, to which he appended an author's note: "Walt Whitman wishes to respectfully notify the public that . . . he would like this new 1892 edition to absolutely supersede all previous ones. Faulty as it is, he decides it is by far his special and entirely self-chosen poetic utterance." 21

Two months later, on 26 March 1892, Walt Whitman died at home at the age of 72. He was buried in Camden's Harleigh Cemetery. Whitman felt he did not achieve the aims he set forth when he first published Leaves of Grass. "The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it," he once wrote. "I have not gain'd the acceptance of my time." 22 Perhaps he did not get what he wanted in his time, but he certainly has gained acceptance in ours.

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