It looks like a Walt Whitman summer in New York City.
The bicentennial of the 19th century poet's birth is being marked with exhibitions at the Grolier Club, the New York Public Library and the Morgan Library, according to The New York Times. Artifacts from the "Leaves of Grass" author's career will be displayed, including manuscripts, first editions and a lock of his hair.
This is also the bicentennial of Herman Melville's birth. The "Moby Dick" author also will be honored in New York City. Like Whitman, who began his career as a Brooklyn newspaperman, Melville is associated with the great city, especially his enigmatic short story "Bartleby the Scrivener."
And, as Elaine Showalter reminds us in a New York Review of Books article, it's also the bicentennial of the birth of Julia Ward Howe, who wrote "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and other works and fought for women's voting rights.
The three 19th century titans speak to us of an America haunted by the Civil War and riven by racial violence and economic disparities but bursting with creative and entrepreneurial energy.
Theirs was a raw country, rising to world dominance with new businesses, inventions and literature against a backdrop of persistent poverty and repression, especially in the South. Their words still speak to us.