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"After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on - have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear - what remains? Nature remains."


Walt Whitman,

1882, Specimen Days

WhitmanWeb Project

The website was launched in 2012, featuring Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself” in nine languages: English, Chinese, French, German, Persian, Portuguese, Russian (in two versions), Spanish, and Ukrainian. Arabic (in two versions), Malay, Polish, Romanian, Khmer, Kurdish and Filipino translations followed in 2013 and 2014, two versions of translation into the Turkish in 2021, and other languages are expected. The idea behind the project was to have a conversation, across languages, borders, and time zones, about the multiple meanings of this foundational text. For 52 weeks between fall of 2012 and 2013, Professor Ed Folsom, co-director of the Whitman Archive and Christopher Merrill, director of the International Writing Program, exchanged a foreword and an afterword to each section, then posed a question inspired by the reading. The readers answered these in the Comments section of each section, or on the pages of WhitmanWeb’s social media. In 2016 Folsom’s and Merrill’s commentaries were published alongside Whitman’s poem by the University of Iowa Press.

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Photographer unknown, probably Gabriel Harrison

Song of Myself

Each section of “Song of Myself” is presented in English alongside translations in eight other languages, including the first-ever translation into Persian, accompanied by photographs, commentary, discussion questions, and recordings.

A print of overlapping red vines with long green leaves.

Every Atom

Every Atom: Walt Whitman’s "Song of Myself" takes a collective approach to a close reading of America’s democratic verse epic, first published without a title in the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass and later titled "Song of Myself" in the 1881 edition.

Engraving by Samuel Hollyer, after a daguerreotype by Gabriel Harrison (original daguerreotype lost)

Whitman and the Civil War

In Whitman and the Civil War—the latest incarnation of the WhitmanWeb—war is the subject, but peace and reconciliation are the themes we will explore week by week.