How to Write a Poem Like Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman is one of the most famous American poets. Known as the father of the American romanticism, he was given this label through the connections of British romantic poetry and his elegantly aesthetic poems for his love of America and his philosophies. Throughout his life, he had a variety of careers. He worked in the publishing industry as a printer, as an office clerk and was also a nurse during the American Civil War. While Whitman was a jack of all trades, he is most revered for his poetry. To write a poem in the style of Walt Whitman, you need to write in the style of romantic poets while writing in a free verse, which means you write in no prescribed meter. You will to capture a feeling from an experience and describe it with intensity and passion.

Think about an event or experience you are passionate about or brings about a lot of emotion. Your best writing will come from events, experiences and knowledge you are passionate about.

Write down keywords that describe this emotion. Look in your thesaurus to come up with descriptive and more lyrical words.

Write an outline of your poem by creating a story line of the subject of your poem. Each line should be describing the emotion as you felt it. You want the reader to feel through your words what you were feeling at the time. Incorporate words from the list that you created.

Transform the story line into verse. Creating a meter can help the reader feel the tone; each line will have the same number of syllables or there will be a prescribed line length. Walt Whitman style poems do not all have a set meter and in some of his works he writes in free verse. Having a meter is not required but is a tool that you can use to convey emotion, as Walt Whitman does.

Edit your work. Read it out loud to hear if you have incorporated the correct meter, if you chose to have one. There is no right or wrong meter, but reading your poem out loud will ensure you are consistent with the one you have chosen. Change around wording and descriptions to make the emotion even more intense.


Ask people to read your work for criticism and suggestions.

Things You'll Need

  • Pen or Pencil
  • Paper
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
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