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This project examines Walt Whitman’s poetic voice – pre, during, and post-Civil War conflict. The essay argues that through the various iterations of Leaves of Grass, 1855 through the authoritative 1892 publication, Walt Whitman’s poetic voice and style is revised and reformed by the Civil War’s transformative power. Critics agree that the “poet of democracy…[who] celebrated the mystical, divine potential of the individual” [1] and was witness to war’s realistic horror and the powerlessness of one, forever changed in both Whitman’s personal and poetic writing. The project further explores the idea that Whitman’s writing mirrors the courageous individuals represented in Embattled Courage as author, Gerald Linderman, notes the same transformation upon the brave men who filled the battle lines of blue and grey.

[1] Jeanne Campbell Reesman, “Walt Whitman, 1819-1892” in The Norton Anthology of American Literature, ed. Nina Baym (New York: Norton, 2007), C: 17.

Presentation Date

Winter 2-2015

Faculty Advisor

Dr. James Spiller


McNair Summer Research Conference


poetry, Civil War, Whitman, transformation


American Literature | United States History


Presented at SUNY Graduate Research Symposium 2015

Stained with Blood: Idealism and Reality in Whitman’s Drum Taps