Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman worked as a journalist, a teacher, a government clerk, and–in addition to publishing his poetry–was a volunteer nurse during the American Civil War. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse.
Walt Whitman's work was very controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sexuality. Leaves of Grass, was first published in 1855 with his own money. The work was an attempt at reaching out to the common person with an American epic. He continued expanding and revising it until his death in 1892.