Leaves of Grassby Walt Whitman
As Malcolm Cowley says in his Introduction, the first edition of Leaves of Grass "might be called the buried masterpiece of American writing," for it exhibits "Whitman at his best, Whitman at his freshest in vision and boldest in language, Whitman transformed by a new experience." Cowley has taken the first edition from its narrow circulation among scholars,… See more details below
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As Malcolm Cowley says in his Introduction, the first edition of Leaves of Grass "might be called the buried masterpiece of American writing," for it exhibits "Whitman at his best, Whitman at his freshest in vision and boldest in language, Whitman transformed by a new experience." Cowley has taken the first edition from its narrow circulation among scholars, faithfully edited it, added his own Introduction and Whitman's original Introduction (which never appeared in any other edition during Whitman's life), and returned it to the common readership for whom the great poet intended it.
- Philadelphia : Rees Welsh & Co.
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One's Self I Sing
One's-Self I sing, a simple separate person,
Yet utter the word Democratic, the word En-Masse.
Of physiology from top to toe I sing,
Not physiognomy alone nor brain alone is worthy for the Muse, I say the Form complete is worthier far,
The Female equally with the Male I sing.
Of Life immense in passion, pulse, and power,
Cheerful, for freest action form'd under the laws divine,
The Modern Man I sing.
As I Ponder'd in Silence
As I ponder'd in silence,
Returning upon my poems, considering, lingering long,
A Phantom arose before me with distrustful aspect,
Terrible in beauty, age, and power,
The genius of poets of old lands,
As to me directing like flame its eyes,
With finger pointing to many immortal songs,
And menacing voice, What singest thou? it said,
Know'st thou not there is hut one theme for ever-enduring bards?
And that is the theme of War, the fortune of battles,
The making of perfect soldiers.
Be it so, then I answer'd.
I too haughty Shade also sing war, and a longer and greater one than any,
Waged in my book with varying fortune, with flight, advance and retreat, victory deferr'd and wavering,
(Yet methinks certain, or as good as certain, at the last,) the field the world,
For life and death., for the Body and for the eternal Soul,
Lo, I too am come, chanting the chant of battles,
I above all promote brave soldiers.
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Meet the Author
In 1855, Walt Whitman (1819–92) published his great tribute to America, the volume of poems that was to become his masterpiece, Leaves of Grass. Although praised by Emerson, the work met with a disappointing reception, and Whitman went on to become a war correspondent and government clerk, devoting much of his time to caring for the sick and wounded in hospitals around Washington. His reactions to and interpretations of the struggle for freedom are to be found in Drum-Taps and the Civil War section of Specimen Days.
Billy Collins has published nine volumes of poetry, most recently Horoscopes of the Dead. He is also the editor of Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry. He served as United States poet laureate from 2001 to 2003 and was New York State poet laureate from 2004 to 2006. He is a Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College (CUNY) and the Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute in Florida.
Peter Davison was the author of ten books of verse, culminating in The Poems of Peter Davison, 1957–1995, before his eleventh and final collection, Breathing Room. Davison also wrote a memoir, Half Remembered: A Personal History; a book of criticism, One of the Dangerous Trades: Essays on the Work and Workings of Poetry; and a literary chronicle, The Fading Smile: Poets in Boston from Robert Frost to Robert Lowell to Sylvia Plath, 1955–1960. He was also poetry editor of The Atlantic Monthly.
Elisabeth Panttaja Brink teaches writing in the Woods College of Advancing Studies at Boston College. She has a PhD in American Literature and is the author of scholarly essays, short stories, and two novels, Save Your Own and (as Elisabeth Elo) North of Boston.
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