< Return to Famous Quakers
< Return to Famous Transcendentalists
The Religious Affiliation of American Poet
"Walt Whitman was born in Long Island, New York, the son of a Quaker carpenter." [Source: "Walt(er) Whitman (1819-1892)", on "Books and Writers" website; http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/wwhitman.htm]
From: Mitchell Santine Gould, "Walt Whitman FAQ (Frequently-Asked Questions)" (http://generalpicture.typepad.com/WW-FAQ.html):
His fifth most important lie was that he was 'never made to live inside [the] fence' of Quakerism; however, this statement wasn't really a lie at all, but a misleading oversimplification... He probably stayed in Washington because his Quaker values compelled him to nurse the wounded... What is the 'quaker paradox?' This is a term coined by this author [Gould] to describe a long-standing problem in understanding Whitman's Quaker-gray clothing, his Quaker friends, and the Quaker values and speech patterns embodied in his poems, while still accepting Whitman's claim that he was not an actual member of any Quaker meeting.
From: "Announcements" page in Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, Spring 2005, published by the University of Iowa (http://www.uiowa.edu/~wwqr/announcements.html; viewed 8 July 2005):
See also: Also: Whitman & Quakers: Why Should You Care? by Su Penn.
Mitchell Santine Gould has developed a new website focusing on what he calls Whitman's "Quaker paradox" -- Whitman denied he ever lived inside the "fence" of Quakerism, yet Quaker references are throughout his poetry and prose, and he once told Hamlin Garland [in 1888] "I am a good deal of a Quaker." Gould proposes that Whitman did not join meetings of the first radical Quaker schism (Hicksite Quakerism), but that he may have been involved with a "later, lesser-known schism from that group, called the Friends of Human Progress." The website (www.leavesofgrass.org) examines what Gould labels the sailor/lover/Quaker triangle, proposing that Whitman "gave voice to the sentiments of Quaker whalers in [his] birthplace near Cold Spring Harbor."
Webpage created 8 July 2005. Last modified 8 July 2005.
We are always striving to increase the accuracy and usefulness of our website. We are happy to hear from you. Please submit questions, suggestions, comments, corrections, etc. to: firstname.lastname@example.org.