I don't know much about Walt Whitman, except what I've gleaned from the page-long introduction to Leaves of Grass (a book, by the way, which I highly recommend). Something I find intriguing about Walt is that he titled many poems "Thought". Perhaps that is a sign of greatness... but I'm no literary critic. He lived from 1819 to 1892, published the first edition of Leaves in 1855, and continued to revise and add to it for his entire life. Talk about persistence. Yow. Get this: "He was a clerk in the Department of Interior until the interior secretary discovered he was the author of a 'vulgar' book and dismissed him." (Leaves bio) How funny! I'm not nearly through all the poems in this book. I'm not a big fan of lengthy poems, but I've read a couple of Walt's and enjoyed them. That shouldn't be taken lightly.
Oh yeah... and he was gay. :)