Walt Whitman is now regarded as the first great American poet, and Leaves of Grass his masterpiece. Yet the first edition was met with apathy and antipathy in equal measure, and it took a lifetime of rewriting to reach the status it now holds. Whitman offered a candid celebration of the human form and its delights, but he was unwavering in his belief that our natural existence provides gateways to spiritual understanding. This was undoubtedly inspired by his readings of Swedenborg, and Whitman wrote highly of the Swedish seer—in 1858 he predicted that Swedenborg would make ‘the deepest and broadest mark upon the religions of, future ages, of any man who ever walked the earth’.
WALT WHITMAN (1819-92). The leading American poet of the nineteenth century, Whitman was profoundly influenced by the work of Emerson. He was also influenced by Swedenborg who, he wrote, will probably ‘make the deepest and broadest mark upon the religions of future ages here, of any man that ever walked the earth’. It has recently been argued that his most famous work, Leaves of Grass, was deeply influenced by the doctrine of correspondences as expounded by Swedenborg.
Reference: Anders Hallengren, ‘A Hermeneutic Key to the Leaves of Grass’, in In Search of the Absolute.