May 31

American poet Walt Whitman born

May 31, 1819

Related Lessons

  • Walt Whitman to Langston Hughes: Poems for a Democracy
    Lesson Plan / Art & Culture
    Walt Whitman to Langston Hughes: Poems for a Democracy

    Walt Whitman sought to create a new and distinctly American form of poetry. His efforts had a profound influence on subsequent generations of American poets. In this lesson, students will explore the historical context of Whitman's concept of "democratic poetry" by reading his poetry and prose and by examining daguerreotypes taken circa 1850. Next, students will compare the poetic concepts and techniques behind Whitman's "I Hear America Singing" and Langston Hughes' "Let America Be America Again," and will have an opportunity to apply similar concepts and techniques in creating a poem from their own experience.

  • Walt Whitman's Notebooks and Poetry: the Sweep of the Universe
    Lesson Plan / History & Social Studies
    Walt Whitman's Notebooks and Poetry: the Sweep of the Universe

    Clues to Walt Whitman's effort to create a new and distinctly American form of verse may be found in his Notebooks, now available online from the American Memory Collection. In an entry to be examined in this lesson, Whitman indicated that he wanted his poetry to explore important ideas of a universal scope (as in the European tradition), but in authentic American situations and settings using specific details with direct appeal to the senses.

Memorial Day first observed

May 31, 1868

Related Lessons

Over 2,000 residents of Johnstown, PA, die in a massive flood

May 31, 1889