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Whitman introduction by Bill McGlaughlin and Thomas Hampson (RealAudio 2.0 14.4)

The Modern Man I Sing

Poems by Walt Whitman,
Read and sung by baritone Thomas Hampson
for Saint Paul Sunday

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

Find out more about Walt Whitman.


Access the Whitman texts available on this site by walking through them one by one, or selecting from a menu.


Review Whitman's life in context with other events of the 19th century in a humanities-oriented chronology.

WALT WHITMAN inspired a rich spectrum of musical sensibilities, touching European and American composers as diverse as Kurt Weill, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Paul Hindemith, Charles Ives, and Ned Rorem, all of whom are represented on this site along with many others.

The overt musicality of Whitman's language in concert with his deeply personal subject matter lends itself to song-writing, as does the poet's abiding invocation of song itself. Throughout Leaves of Grass - Whitman's all-embracing love poem to the young United States, and the textual source for each of the program's settings - the poet again and again exults in singing. He named some twenty of his poems "songs" and continually blurs any distinction between the lyricism of speech and the poetry of singing.

Hampson says: For me, [Whitman's] art serves as an anchor to link music, visual art, and history. Whitman's voice was both unique and universal, a Zeitgeist of the Romantic Age on the new American frontier. I love his audacity, his forthrightness, his heart-on-sleeve spontaneity, and the graphic language that so perfectly reveals the soul. It is his spiritual message. . . I find so compelling.

For more of Saint Paul Sunday and Thomas Hampson with pianist Craig Rutenberg, visit A Poet's Love, an exploration of Robert Schumann's haunting settings of poetry by Heinrich Heine.

Thomas Hampson

Thomas Hampson


Listen to songs and readings of these texts:

One's Self I Sing

A Clear Midnight

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd (excerpt)

Ethiopia Saluting the Colors

Dirge for Two Veterans

Song of Myself (excerpt)