Born on Long Island and raised in Brooklyn, Walt Whitman spent his childhood and early adulthood amid the sights and
This unpublished cluster of twelve poems that Whitman wrote during the late 1850s about a failed relationship with a male lover (most likely Fred Vaughan, a working-class man almost twenty years Whitman's junior) formed the basis for the "Calamus" poems of the 1860 Leaves of Grass.
"It may have been at Pfaff's that Whitman met Fred Vaughan, an intriguing mystery-figure in Whitman biography. Whitman and Vaughan, a young Irish stage driver, clearly had an intense relationship at this time, perhaps inspiring the sequence of homoerotic love poems Whitman called 'Live Oak, with Moss,' poems that would become the heart of his Calamus cluster, which appeared in the 1860 edition of Leaves. These poems record a despair about the failure of the relationship, and the loss of Whitman's bond with Vaughan--who soon married, had four children, and would only sporadically keep in touch with Whitman--was clearly the source of some deep unhappiness for the poet."
Reynolds refers to the "Live Oak with Moss" sequence of poems that Whitman wrote during the late 1850s, a sequence that would form the core of the much longer "Calamus" cluster in the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass. Reynolds says that the sequence "describes the joys and pains of an intense but ill-fated relationship with a man" (16).
Whitman revised the twelve "Live Oak, with Moss" poems and included them as part of the "Calamus" cluster of poems in the third edition of Leaves of Grass in 1860.
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015