Combing through the Library of Congress’s collection of penny newspapers, Wendy Katz stumbled across a famous set of initials.
Yes, that W.W. -- Walt Whitman, author of the 1855 book “Leaves of Grass” and one of the most influential American poets to ever put pen to paper.
Researching a book on the intersection of politics and art criticism in the penny press, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln associate professor of art history expected she might find some of Whitman’s works.
“I was literally going through these newspapers page by page and fully expected to find some of Whitman’s journalism,” Katz said. “I didn’t expect to find a poem.”
In the 15-line poem "To Bryant, the Poet of Nature," published June 23, 1842, in the New Era, Whitman addresses his friend, New York Evening Post editor and poet William Cullen Bryant.