“No one makes craft, carefully wrought, seem more casual than Walt Whitman.”
— Richard Rhodes, How to Write: Advice and Reflections (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1995), pg. 12
A former friend of mine, the poet Charles Pierre, made a comment to me — I wish I could remember exactly what he said — to the effect that Walt Whitman is actually very difficult. Difficult for the reader, that is. That he presents a level of difficulty that requires acute understanding of? I think Pierre would have said: an understanding of what Whitman is doing; of his poetic technique, of his originality, poetic genius, and ingenuity. That Whitman, who seems on the surface so simple, is not really simple.
And yet, I find Whitman to be easy to become acquainted with and comprehend without necessarily being (as in the case of myself) expert at poetry. I “got” his poetry almost right away.
— Roger W. Smith