Walt Whitman is a crucial figure in the Jewish American poetic tradition. Though scholars have periodically noted Whitman's influence on this tradition, the breadth of Jewish American poets who have embraced Whitman's aesthetics and ethos, from the mid-nineteenth century to date, has yet to be recognized, notwithstanding Allen Ginsberg. This essay presents an intriguing example of a Jewish American poet responding pre–World War II to the non-Jewish Whitman: the political poet Muriel Rukeyser. Rukeyser adopts aspects of Whitman's work to create a more democratic, socially informed, and inclusive America in general and Jewish America in particular. This case of intertextuality demonstrates how a Jewish minority writer, in order to negotiate their position in America, turns to a non-Jewish American majority writer.

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