O Captain! My Captain! Upcoming USPS Issue Honors a Literary Giant

O Captain! My Captain! Upcoming USPS Issue Honors a Literary Giant


... The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?


That you are here—that life exists and identity,

That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

~ "O Me! O Life!" by Walt Whitman (Leaves of Grass, 1892)

On September 12, 2019, the U.S. Postal Service will honor beloved American poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892) on the 200th anniversary of his birth with the newest stamp in its Literary Arts series. Whitman is best known as “the Father of American poetry,” in part for his collection Leaves of Grass, which celebrates nature, democracy, love and friendship. Walt Whitman Single Image

The Walt Whitman stamp will be the 32nd installment in the Literary Arts series, which began in 1979 with John Steinbeck. The dedication ceremony will take place at the Walt Whitman Birthplace historical site and museum in Huntington Station, New York. The event is free and open to the public. All are welcome. 

Art director and designer Greg Breeding worked with artist Sam Weber to create this stamp. The depiction of Whitman is based on a well-known photograph taken by Frank Pearsall in 1869. The lilac branch in the background recalls one of Whitman's most famous poems, “When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom'd,” which Whitman wrote shortly after President Abraham Lincoln's assassination in April of 1865. The stamp is non-demoninated priced at the three-ounce rate, and will be issued in a pressure-sensitive adhesive pane of 20 stamps. 

News about the stamp is being shared with the hashtag #WaltWhitmanStamps.

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About Walt Whitman and Leaves of Grass Whitman-1

Born 200 years ago, poet Walt Whitman was one of the nation’s greatest champions. His writing aimed to embody the democratic ethos itself, using poetry to break down the artificial boundaries that separate man and woman, city and countryside, free and enslaved, poet and laborer — and ultimately the self and the universe. He was also known for his experiments with free verse, and his literary influence extends to countless American poets, including Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Allen Ginsberg.

The 1855 publication of Leaves of Grass marked the beginning of what would become Whitman’s lifelong masterwork. Over the next 40 years, he published several editions of the collection, which grew from 12 untitled pieces to nearly 400 poems. 

Walt Whitman was first honored on a stamp in 1940 for the Famous Americans series (Scott #867, pictured right and available from the APS StampStore). 

Learn how to order a first day cover or first day of issue postmark here.

Information about the upcoming Walt Whitman stamp release and dedication ceremony comes from the U.S. Postal Service. Learn more here. 

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