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Poet Walt Whitman Honored with New U.S. Stamp

By Taylor Smith

 American poet Walt Whitman has been honored with a new United States stamp.

The stamp is intended for domestic first-class mail weighing up to 3 ounces, and is priced at 85 cents. USPS Art Director Greg Breeding designed the stamp with artwork by Sam Weber, who previously illustrated the Flannery O’Connor stamp in 2015 and the Henry David Thoreau stamp in 2017.

A first-day ceremony was held at the Walt Whitman Birthplace, located at 246 Old Walt Whitman Road in Huntington Station, N.Y. Cynthia Shor, executive director of the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association, played a key role in the ceremony. Thomas J. Marshall, USPS general counsel and executive vice president, was also in attendance. The Walt Whitman stamp is being issued in sheets of 20 with a banner at the top that reads, “Literary Arts, 32nd in a Series.”

The Whitman stamp artwork was inspired by a photograph taken of Whitman in 1869 by George Frank Edgar Pearsall. Pearsall, along with his brother Alva Adee Pearsall, had a long career in early photography and opened a series of galleries in Brooklyn, N.Y. Whitman is estimated to be 50 years old in the photograph. As described on the USPS website, “In the background, a hermit thrush sitting on the bush recalls ‘When Lilacs in the Door-yard Bloom’d,’ an elegy for President Abraham Lincoln. Written soon after Lincoln’s assassination on April 14, 1865, the poem appeared in the second edition of Drum-Taps, a collection of poems written during the Civil War.”

Whitman has also been honored in official stamps in Sweden and Romania.

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