Walt Whitman was an influential writer during the Romantic period. A few qualities of Romanticism are the glorification of nature, elevation of the common man, the supernatural, and Nationalism which Whitman really embraced in his writing. Even in his own life, he adopted the persona of the “common man.” Most portraits of Whitman are more casual than the typical portraits from this time period. For example, in the portrait he used for the cover of Leaves of Grass, Whitman is standing in a casual pose, his hat is on cocked, and he is staring straight at the camera. This image went against the traditional route and aligned Whitman with the working people (“Walt Whitman” 1310).
Whitman’s poetry is often described as lyric nationalism. Lyric is the private and individual voice defining opposition, and Nationalism is defining what it means to be an American. Walt Whitman is famous for combining the two genres. His poems have an observant and documentary element to them because he points out the subtleties of America. One reason he is considered a Nationalist poet is because he points out what makes America special or different.