Shirt unbuttoned and beard untrimmed, Walt Whitman was an exuberant democrat who loved open gestures and dramatic assertions. I am large, he wrote, I contain multitudes. And his multitudes were magnificent: they included all races, women and men, the bustling cities and hamlets of expanding America, as well as the fertile earth from which they all came and on which they all depended. Whitman saw that they belonged together, making what he called one ensemble. It was his distinctive gift to connect all things, to see the larger picture, to think symphonically.

One of the first to recognise ...


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