Whitman in Washington, Circa 1863-64. Photographer, Alexander Gardner  - (Alderman Library, University of Virginia)


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Walt Whitman in Washington

Walt Whitman lived and worked in Washington, DC from 1863 to 1873. During this period, the poet published his poignant poems of the Civil War, Drum Taps, and his elegies to Lincoln, “O Captain! My Captain!” and “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,” all while earning his living as a civil servant.

Walt Whitman on his time in Washington:

"the very centre, circumference, umbilicus of my whole career."

"I was always between two loves at that time: I wanted to be in New York, I had to be in Washington: I was never in the one place but I was restless for the other: my heart was distracted: yet it never occurred to me for a minute that there were two things to do--that I had any right or call to abandon my work: it was a religion with me."


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