Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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Preface

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pp. ix-xi

American Bards tells the story of three antebellum poets whose names are seldom, if ever, mentioned in the same breath as that of Walt Whitman, despite the fact that their respective projects for American poetry ran parallel to Whitman’s own. At one time or another, each of these poets adopted a...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xiv

I am grateful for the opportunity to dedicate this book, in part, to the many teachers in whose classrooms I have been privileged to sit over the years. Of all these teachers, however, to none do I owe more thanks than Robert S. Levine and Martha Nell Smith of the University of Maryland. Their support...

Abbreviations

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p. xv

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Introduction

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pp. 1-20

When William Michael Rossetti credited Walt Whitman with being “the one man” in America to have created a school of distinctively national poetry, he nurtured the persona that Whitman himself had already cultivated as the “solitary singer” of the United States. As Whitman...

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1. The Poet of Slaves

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pp. 21-65

In early August 1848, the first national convention of the newly formed Free-Soil Party took place in Buffalo, New York. Those in attendance were a mix of former Democrats, Whigs, and Liberty Party members who, for various reasons, opposed the extension of slavery into territories...

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2. Poet of a New American Religion

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pp. 67-112

In September 1879 Walt Whitman was visiting Denver, Colorado, as part of a trip to the western United States that included stops in Lawrence, Kansas, and St. Louis, Missouri. Almost twenty years earlier Whitman had written in the poem “A Promise to California” that...

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3. The First White Aboriginal

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pp. 113-153

For the first half of 1865, Walt Whitman was working as a clerk at the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. He appears to have enjoyed the job, which offered him a steady paycheck, a flexible work schedule, and the opportunity to meet with the Native American delegates...

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4. An American, One of the Roughs, a Kosmos

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pp. 155-190

In the early fall of 1855, Walt Whitman wrote and published three anonymous reviews of the first edition of Leaves of Grass, a bold and audacious move intended not only to generate publicity for his book but also to instruct critics and potential readers on how they were to receive it...

Notes

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pp. 191-211

Bibliography

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pp. 213-233

Index

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pp. 235-248