A Bard Commensurate with a People

An excerpt from the 1855 Preface to Leaves of Grass

by Walt Whitman

The American poets are to enclose old and new for America is the race of races. Of them a bard is to be commensurate with a people. To him the other continents arrive as contributions  . . .  he gives them reception for their sake and his own sake. His spirit responds to his country’s spirit. . . . he incarnates its geography and natural life and rivers and lakes.

  "Imperfect Transcripts," Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The Poet"

  "A Bard Commensurate," Walt Whitman, 1855 Preface

  "Spring Songs," Walt Whitman, Specimen Days,

  "A Wilder, Lovelier Song," William Carlos Williams, "The American Background"

  "Poetics of Loss," DL