Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

263,368 subscribers and counting ...

This date in science: Walt Whitman’s birthday

“Love the earth and sun and the animals … ” – Walt Whitman

May 31, 1819. Walt Whitman might not have approved of having his birthday listed among great dates in science. After all, he was a poet. But this quote by itself caused us to include him:

This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.

Because don’t these ideas remind you of science? Not yet? Then how about this one?

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.

Enjoying EarthSky so far? Sign up for our free daily newsletter today!

Walt Whitman as photographed by Matthew Brady.

Walt Whitman as photographed by Matthew Brady.

Poet and journalist Walt Whitman was born May 31, 1819 in West Hills, New York. He is considered to be one of America’s most influential poets, and his collection Leaves of Grass is considered a landmark in American literature.

Bottom line: Walt Whitman was born on May 31, 1819.

Deborah Byrd