— Walt Whitman (1819-1892), “Song of Myself” (1855 edition), lines 466-467
Regardless of your feelings about poetry, I think you can’t help but smile when one of America’s most pioneering literary voices admits that he is not all unicorns and rainbows. In his free-verse epic “Song of Myself,” Whitman readily acknowledges his mischievous dark side, too. The phrase “poet of wickedness” is delightfully sinister.
This photo of the then thirty-five-year-old poet, which was taken in 1854, was obtained from the Library of Congress website.