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Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
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Leaves of Grass (original 1855; edition 2000)

by Walt Whitman, Walt Whitman (Auteur)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,329None615 (4.17)1 / 190
Member:sibyx
Title:Leaves of Grass
Authors:Walt Whitman
Other authors:Walt Whitman (Auteur)
Info:BookSurge Publishing (2000), Broché, 520 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:poetry

Work details

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (1855)

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English (38)  Italian (2)  Romanian (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (43)
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
The first edition, a small booklet of just a hundred pages containing a dozen poems, shows Whitman in farmer clothes, the last one with almost four hundred poems depicts a long-bearded old wise man. Whenever I reread his poems I am astonished, that the poet who praised the beauty of his country and its natural landscape obviously did never leave the small perimeter of N. Y. and Washington D. C.
  hbergander | Feb 17, 2014 |
this copy is the 1963 bantam paperback
  antiqueart | Dec 8, 2013 |
2011 will go down, for me, as The Year Ben Caught Up On His Classics. Partly due to shame at continually seeing "Top 100" lists (B&N, Modern Library, etc.) of which I had invariably only read about 10, partly due to increased reading time thanks to becoming a train commuter, but mostly due to buying an e-reader and suddenly having easy, free access to public domain material, I've spent a good chunk of this year reading famous old books. Some of them were great; others, mediocre. Some of them have aged beautifully; others now seem quaint, silly, or merely boring.

In any event, whether I've enjoyed the books or not, when I sit down to review them, I do so knowing that my better-read friends have probably already read them, often decades ago. And thus it is with Leaves of Grass. There's nothing I'm going to be able to say to shed any new light on a work that's been loved, hated, studied and scrutinized for over a century, and has had numerous critical works written about it. So I won't even try. But here are a few personal observations, in lazy man's bullet points, because I write paragraphs for a living and I'm on vacation right now:

- This is a warm, beautiful collection of writings. Whitman makes constant references to throwing his arm around you, the reader, and the tone of the writing bears that out. Walt is the drunk guy at the party who really loves you, maaaaaannnnn, and keeps giving you hugs.
- I love how he manages to give structure to his poems. "Free verse" is really a misnomer, I think, because the verse is musical and wonderfully well-crafted. Shorn of the restrictions of meter or rhyme, Whitman makes amazing use of alliteration and psalm-like repetition to impart rhythm. These are lovely poems to read out loud.
- This stuff must have been scandalously graphic for the time period. There's a lot of throbbing and sliding going on. I can see why Emily Dickinson hated it.
- It's interesting how Whitman's persona and point of view subtly shift: from omnipotent and omniscient, to solipsistic; from being above all, to being one with everything. One moment he's a silent, ghostly observer, separate from the observed, and the next moment he's just one more microscopic cell in the sweaty body of humanity.

Leaves of Grass is so intense that it actually started to burn a bit by the end, an overstimulated, almost snowblind feeling. I suppose that's to be expected when you read in a few dozen hours what took a lifetime to write. I feel as though this is a book I will come back to for small doses, re-savoring favorite passages when the occasion and mood call for it. Wise, kind, funny, sexy, generous, and passionate. I'm sorry I waited 38 years to let Walt sound his barbarian yawp across the screen of my Kindle. ( )
1 vote benjamin.duffy | Jul 28, 2013 |
This delightful Illustrated Leaves of Grass, with introduction by William Carlos Williams (also a poet) and edited by Howard Chapnick, provides clarity and adds dimension to 14 complete poems and 6 excerpts of his longer works. The photos, lay side-by-side with the text, made Whitman’s words pop and dance. His message is so clear, strong, and timeless when presented in this format. Considering Leaves of Grass was written between 1855 to 1892 and these photos are from 1960 to 1970, it certainly has withstood the test of time. I can even visualize what a version with current events may look.

In the introduction by Williams, he wrote, “Whitman came from a rhetorical and long-winded age.” I laughed and didn’t feel so bad that I had said Whitman word-puked in my recent Leaves of Grass review. He also wrote, “Never to my knowledge had the subjects of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass been so presented! The poem came alive for me as if for the first time.” Well said. I uploaded a few pictures in my gallery to share.

More Quotes:

On Equality from “Song of Myself”:
“I am the poet of the woman
the same as the man;
And I say it is as great to be
a woman as to be a man;
And I say there is nothing
greater than the mother
of men.”

On Celebration of the Body and the Relationship between Men and Women, from “I Sing the Body Electric”:
“I sing the Body electric;
The armies of those I love engirth me,
and I engirth them;
They will not let me off till I go with them,
respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full
with the charge of the Soul.
Was it doubted that those who corrupt
their own bodies conceal themselves?
And if those who defile the living
are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do as much
as the Soul?
And if the body were not the Soul,
what is the Soul?
The love of the Body of man or woman
balks account – the body itself balks account;
That of the male is perfect, and that
of the female is perfect.”

On Aging, from “To Old Age”:
“I see in you the estuary that
enlarges and spreads itself grandly
as it pours in the great Sea.” ----- I love this line

On Adventure and the Journey of Life, from “Song of the Open Road”:
“Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune – I myself am good-fortune;
Strong and content, I travel the open road.”

And

“Now I re-examine philosophies and religions,
They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove at all under the spacious
clouds, and along the landscape and flowing currents.”

And

“Mon enfant! I give you my hand!
I give you my love, more precious than money,
I give you myself, before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?”

On President Lincoln’s Assassination – one of his most moving pieces:

"O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up--for you the flag is flung--for you the bugle trills; 10
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths--for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won; 20
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead."

On Whitman’s Acceptance of Death:

“I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I am,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.” ( )
1 vote varwenea | May 12, 2013 |
Whitman is today regarded as America's Homer or Dante, and his work the touchstone for literary originality in the New World. In Leaves of Grass, he abandoned the rules of traditional poetry - breaking the standard metered line, discarding the obligatory rhyming scheme, and using the vernacular. I read this most recently as part of a weekend retreat sponsored by the University of Chicago's Basic Program of Liberal Education. The music of his poetry was present as it is in the many authors who Whitman influenced.
Emily Dickinson condemned his sexual and physiological allusions as `disgraceful', but Emerson saw the book as the `most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed'. A century later it is his judgement of this autobiographical vision of the vigour of the American nation that has proved the more enduring. ( )
  jwhenderson | May 9, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (127 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Walt Whitmanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Babcock, Clarence MertonEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holloway, EmoryEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaplan, JustinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kouwenhoven, John A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Loving, JeromeEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spanfeller, JimIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Come, said my Soul,
Such verses for my Body let us write, (for we are one,)
That should I after death invisibly return,
Or, long, long hence, in other spheres,
There to some group of mates the chants resuming,
(Tallying Earth's soil, trees, winds, tumultuous waves,)
Ever with pleas'd smile I may keep on,
Ever and ever yet the verses owning - as, first, I here and now
Signing for Soul and Body, set to them my name,
Walt Whitman
Dedication
First words
One's-self I sing, a simple separate person,
Yet utter the word Democratic, the word En-masse.
Quotations
Melange mine own, the unseen and the seen,

Mysterious ocean where the streams empty,

Prophetic spirit of materials shifting and flickering around me,

Living beings, identities now doubtless near us in the air that we know not of,

Contact daily and hourly that will not release me,

These selecting, these in hints demanded of me.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Whitman revised Leaves of Grass at numerous points in his lifetime, frequently with significant changes between editions. (e.g. 93 pages for the original 1855 edition vs. 439 pages for the final 1891-92 edition.)  This work contains those entries for which the edition is unknown.

If your edition is here and you know which version it is, please separate it and combine it with the correct entry.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553211161, Mass Market Paperback)

One of the great innovative figures in American letters, Walt Whitman created a daringly new kind of poetry that became a major force in world literature. Leaves Of Grass is his one book.  First published in 1855 with only twelve poems, it was greeted by Ralph Waldo Emerson as "the wonderful gift . . . the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed."  Over the course of Whitman's life, the book reappeared in many versions, expanded and transformed as the author's experiences and the nation's history changed and grew.  Whitman's ambition was to creates something uniquely American.  In that he succeeded.  His poems have been woven into the very fabric of the American character.  From his solemn masterpieces "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" and "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" to the joyous freedom of "Song of Myself," "I Sing the Body Electric," and "Song of the Open Road," Whitman's work lives on, an inspiration to the poets of later generations.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:36:46 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

As energetic and diverse as the American life it describes, Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass has been loved by generations for its celebration of a brash young nation and one man's exuberant spirit. First published at the author's expense in 1955, this collection of poems was revised and enlarged throughout Whitman's lifetime, and is presented here in the final or "Deathbed edition" of 1892.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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Audible.com

Eleven editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

Three editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140421998, 014303927X, 0451529731

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