Walt Whitman wrote this poem for the death of Abraham Lincoln in 1865, published it to immediate acclaim in the Saturday Press and saw it widely anthologized during his lifetime. While the most innovative of American poets, Whitman in this poem used rhymed, rhythmically regular verse to create a somber yet exalted tone. Restlessly creative, Whitman continued to revise the poem. Here is a proof sheet of the poem, readied for publication in 1888, with corrections. The Library holds the largest collection of Walt Whitman materials, featuring more than 20,000 manuscript items alone.
This item is currently on display in the Library's permanent exhibition "American Treasures of the Library of Congress." Because of their fragility, items on display will be periodically changed.
The exhibition is on view Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E. A guide to "American Treasures" is published by Harry N. Abrams Inc.