Walter "Walt" Whitman was an American poet, essayist and journalist. Walter White's name is reminiscent of the poet, a fact that has played a major role as a plot device in Breaking Bad and used up to the mid-season finale of season five.
Gale Boetticher had given Walt a copy of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, a collection of poems, which has been seen several times since. Prior to giving this gift, Boetticher, an avid Whitman fan, recites "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer", one of the poems found in Leaves of Grass.
In the episode "Hazard Pay", Walt finds his copy of Leaves of Grass as he is packing up his bedroom, briefly smiles and leaves the book out to read. When Walt discovers the book, he is at an especially high time in his life, where he feels that things are coming together and he is succeeding in all ventures. A poem in the book, "Song of Myself", is based on many of these same feelings, furthering the connection between Walt's life and Whitman's poetry.
- "Gliding o'er all, through all, Through Nature, Time, and Space, As a ship on the waters advancing, The voyage of the soul—not life alone, Death, many deaths I'll sing."
- ―Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
- "To my other favorite W.W. It's an honour working with you. Fondly G.B."
Upon reading that, Hank becomes visibly shocked. The episode ends immediately after.
In the antepenultimate episode "Ozymandias", a subtle reference is made to Walt Whitman and his poem 'The Dalliance of the Eagles' . As the hit man Jack points a gun at Jesse's head, he looks up and sees two eagles gliding above him, possibly in reference to the imagery in Whitman's poem.