Translated around the World
Leaves of Grass has been translated into most
of the major languages of the world. The Library holds examples
in twenty-five languages, including Dutch (1898) and Kirghiz (1970),
plus Whitman selections in additional languages. His poetry influenced
world literature chiefly through its themes of love, freedom, brotherhood
and democracy. Shown is a sampling of translations in French, Chinese,
Japanese, Yiddish, Bulgarian and Hebrew. Featured are the first
Russian translation, Pobiegi Travy (1911), and an early
volume in Catalan, Fulles d'herba (1910).
Whitman feared he had not reached the common people, but his name
has been used to sell cigars, coffee, whiskey, and insurance. His
poetry was distributed to workers during the Depression and to
soldiers during World War II. In 1957 the Walt Whitman Bridge opened
between Philadelphia and Gloucester City, New Jersey. His words
are inscribed in such public places as Reagan National Airport
in Washington, D.C. and Fulton Ferry Landing in lower Manhattan.
His image has been in cartoons and on matchbooks, postcards, and
stamps. His life has inspired televison episodes and motion pictures.
Hotels, buildings, plazas, camps, parks, truck stops, corporate
centers, schools, AIDS clinics, think tanks, and shopping malls
now bear his name.
Walt Whitman Cigars "Blades O' Grass"
Cigar box, ca. 1898
Manuscript Division (65)
Hispanic Tributes to Whitman
Whitman had an enormous influence on Hispanic literature and politics.
Whitman was first celebrated in Latin America in an1887 essay by
his Cuban revolutionary counterpart, José Marti, and was
later championed by Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges, translated
into Portuguese by Fernando Pessoa, and into Spanish
by Chilean Pablo Neruda. Antonio Frasconi's 1959 woodcut artfully
reproduces Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca's ode to Whitman,
which first appeared in a 1934 collection of poems published in
Antonio Frasconi (b. 1919), artist
Frederico Garcia Lorca's (1898-1936) "Oda a Walt
Digital ID# ppmsca-07150
Prints & Photographs Division (66)
From Yawp to Howl
Allen Ginsberg's Howl brought Whitman's "barbaric yawp" into
the mainline of twentieth-century poetry in 1955. As one of the "Beat" generation
writers, Ginsberg applied Whitman's tone and stylistic innovations
to the anti-authoritarian politics and insurgent thinking of the
post-World War II era. Ginsberg was one in a long series of poets
to pay homage to Whitman. In 1915, Ezra Pound had first heralded
Whitman as the father of modernist poetry. Hart Crane felt "directly
connected" to Whitman's "bequest" while writing his epic of American
modernity, The Bridge (1930). American poets from William
Carlos Williams to Robert Frost and T.S. Eliot have responded to
Whitman's revolutionary call.
[Digital image not available]
Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997).
Howl and Other Poems.
San Francisco: City Lights Pocket Bookshop, 1956
Rare Book & Special Collections
The Arts Celebrate Whitman
A single page from the nineteen leaves of an original score by
Elliott Carter for soprano and chamber orchestra, serves to represent
some 500 composers who have set Whitman's poetry to music, including
Charles Ives, Howard Hanson, Roger Sessions, Ned Rorem and Philip
Glass. In the twentieth century, Whitman's spirit is reflected
in the artistic expressions of Isadora Duncan's dance, the poetry
of Edna St. Vincent Millay, Joseph Stella's artwork, the architecture
of Frank Lloyd Wright, the prose innovations of Gertrude Stein,
and the transformation of folk culture into art in the Harlem Renaissance
as led by Alain Locke.
Elliot Carter (b. 1908)
Warble for Lilac-Time, 1943
"Revised" manuscript score
Music Division (68)
Whitman Makes Boston
Whitman always wished to be accepted by the literary bastion of
Boston. Ironically, many of the key items from his life, which
are featured in this exhibition, are shown in this photograph of
an historic Boston storefront. Built in 1718 as an apothecary and
residence, during the mid-nineteenth century it was the site of
Ticknor & Fields Publishing Company. Later, as the Old Corner
Bookstore, it became the center of literary Boston when such noted
authors as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel
Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles
Dickens, and Oliver Wendell Holmes gathered here.
F.W. Birchall, photographer
Old Corner Bookstore [Boston], ca.1897-1899
Copyprint made from original cabinet card
Digital ID# ppmsca-08990
Prints & Photographs Division (70)