Leaves of Grass: The

Leaves of Grass: The "Death-Bed" Edition (Modern Library Series)

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by Walt Whitman

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Abraham Lincoln read it with approval, but Emily Dickinson described its bold language and themes as 'disgraceful.' And Ralph Waldo Emerson found Leaves of Grass 'the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed,' calling it a 'combination of the Bhagavad Gita and the New York Herald.' Published at the author's own expense…  See more details below


Abraham Lincoln read it with approval, but Emily Dickinson described its bold language and themes as 'disgraceful.' And Ralph Waldo Emerson found Leaves of Grass 'the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed,' calling it a 'combination of the Bhagavad Gita and the New York Herald.' Published at the author's own expense on July 4, 1855, Leaves of Grass initially consisted of a preface, twelve untitled poems in free verse (including the work later titled 'Song of Myself' which Malcolm Cowley called 'one of the great poems of modern times'), and a now-famous portrait of a devil-may-care Walt Whitman in a workman's shirt. Over the next four decades,
Whitman continually expanded and revised the book as he took on the role of a workingman's bard who championed American nationalism, political democracy, contemporary progress, and unashamed sex. This volume, which contains 383 poems, is the final 'Deathbed Edition' published in 1892.

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Editorial Reviews

A selection of the writings of Whitman from the volumes , , , , , , , , , , , , and others. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
From the Publisher
"Whitman's best poems have that permanent quality of being freshly painted, of not being dulled by the varnish of the years."
—Malcolm Cowley

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Random House Publishing Group
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Modern Library Series
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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' 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 but 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&rsquod 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.


In cabin'd ships at sea,

The boundless blue on every side expanding,

With whistling winds and music of the waves, the large imperious waves,

Or some lone bark buoy'd on the dense marine,

Where joyous full of faith, spreading white sails,

She cleaves the ether mid the sparkle and the foam of day, or under many a star at night,

By sailors young and old haply will I, a reminiscence of the land, be read,

In full rapport at last.

Here are our thoughts, voyagers' thoughts,

Here not the land, firm land, alone appears,
may then by them be said,

The sky o'arches here, we feel the undulating deck beneath our feet,

We feel the long pulsation, ebb and flow of endless motion,

The tones of unseen mystery, the vague and vast suggestions of the briny world, the liquid-flowing syllables,

The perfume, the faint creaking of the cordage, the melancholy rhythm,

The boundless vista and the horizon far and dim are all here,

And this is ocean's poem.

Then falter not O book, fulfil your destiny,

You not a reminiscence of the land alone,

You too as a lone bark cleaving the ether, purpos'd I know not whither, yet ever full of faith,

Consort to every ship that sails, sail you!

Bear forth to them folded my love, (dear mariners, for you I fold it here in every leaf;)

Speed on my book! spread your white sails my little bark athwart the imperious waves,

Chant on, sail on, bear o'er the boundless blue from me to every sea,

This song for mariners and all their ships.

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What People are saying about this

Malcolm Cowley
Whitman's best poems have that permanent quality of being freshly painted, of not being dulled by the varnish of the years. Reading them a century after their publication, one feels the same shock and wonder and delight that Emerson felt when opening his presentation copy of the first edition. They carry us into a new world that Whitman discovered as if this very morning... After reading all of Leaves of Grass as Whitman wished it to be preserved and after being won over by what I think is the best of it... I am willing to join the consensus that regards him as our most rewarding poet.

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Leaves of grass 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 136 reviews.
Susannah Clark More than 1 year ago
This book is not formatted at all. Each poem is one long paragraph, and there are not even extra returns after each poem; they all run together. It may not cost much, but it's still a waste of money.
UtahDesiree More than 1 year ago
Walt started it all and still continues to show his relevance with every passing decade. A life time poet who will always have my heart!
TamikaH2003 More than 1 year ago
while the formatting is awful it doesn't necessarily detract from the outstanding poetry that Walt W. has left us to ponder and love!
chillbillpill More than 1 year ago
I've always compared poetry to music lyrics. And like many albums, often there are just one or two songs which are really, really good. This book fits that model for me. It has a few very memorable poems, but several which, while not bad, require more work to derive the meaning. Still, for anyone interested beautiful language artfully arranged to create mental landscapes, this book is for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Confusing at first....but if you understand the life of vocabulary or hav a dictionary in handy yiure good to go....overall this book is five star worthy.
doncatalog More than 1 year ago
A friend of mine said she just didn't get poetry. It was Walt that invigorated her to dig deeper. Now she is a poetry lover.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got this in hope that it wasn't as poorly formatted as other free poetry. I was wrong. If anything it was worse. Lines ran together, there was random punctuation, and none of the poems were separated. I woul not recommend this at all. I found it to be a waste of time no matter how free it was. Splurge a little and spend a dollar on a better version. You especially don't want to use this version for study as it will take you so much time t simply decifer, let alon study it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very insperational to me
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think Walt Whitman's poems are sensational!I fell in love with his poems and now I read them all the time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read much poetry in the past 20+ years, including Walt¿s, and I still like his poetry very much. If you read Walt¿s poems before, then you know he¿s a great Poet. If you haven¿t read any of his work, then this is a good book to start off reading his poetic works.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Whitman is the great American poet, the one whose spirit encompasses the vast catalogue of a continent in expansion. His language has a hypnotic rhythmic quality, and the colloquial collector of his own heightened perceptions is too a most sympathetic unraveler of the human soul. Apparently wound-dresser Whitman was a first - rate human being as well. There are parts of ' Leaves of Grass' I believe 'When I Heard the Learned Astronomer ' is one which belong in the Canon of Mankind , and will sing to us down through the 'Ages'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Leaves Of Grass is our American Master peice! He took poetry to a more complex level, simple free verse written from his soul. He was the first poet to inspire me as a poet.Each leaf falls from the tree of monumental size.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you want to know where free verse and modern poetry began, then look no further, it all began with Whitman. I remember the first time I read Song Of Myself; it was sheer joy. I had discovered another country, and believe me, I often go there when I need spiritual sustenance and refreshment. A great poet was this man, Walt Whitman.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This edition of The Leaves of Grass, first published in 1855, contains 12 poems, compared with the final, or deathbed edition of 1892, which contains hundreds. But this is Whitman at his best, with a vision so inclusive as to astonish. I believe this book to be one of the world's greatest spiritual texts - surprised? Read it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Walt Whitman is one of the most influential and talented poets in the history of American Literature. His poems are beautiful and can easily be related to today. His ideas are romantic, almost transendental. Leaves of Grass is and will remain a favorite of this teenager.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Format was extremely frustrating on my nook glowlight
Anonymous 8 months ago
For what?
brf1948 11 months ago
I had forgotten how much I love Walt Whitman. This copy of the first edition of Leaves of Grass has most of my favorite of his poems - if you have read or memorized from a later edition, much of the wording is different. Some of the poems have an entirely different slant - I prefer the original to those altered over time.... I treated myself to this and several other 'old favorites' when I got my income tax refund this year. Between the garden and Goodreads Giveaways I do not have the time I had for self-indulgent reading! This is one I will read more often.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
do you have an older brother called matthew who goes to a private school and you went to this camp called rec pac?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She's also not very strong... she's weak and not good at much. Scared, blind, weak, but very beautiful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very nice reading when time permits me to think upon the common events of life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago