Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself. (I am large, I contain multitudes.) Abundant, ecstatic, generous, courageous – this is the first American epic poem, a celebration of selfhood and a catalogue of nineteenth-century American life of all ages and races. Revolutionary in style and controversial in content when it was first published in 1855, Whitman’s masterwork has since inspired generations with its intoxicating rhythms and images, and its inclusive, praiseful joy. The Original 1855 Text.