Leaves of Grass [NOOK Book]

Overview

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 ...
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Leaves of Grass

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Overview

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.

Comprises all of Whitman's poems written following the arrangement of the edition of 1891-1892.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
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
From Barnes & Noble
This handsome edition includes the 12 original poems of Whitman's groundbreaking work, including "Song of Myself," "I Sing the Body Electric," and "There Was a Child Went Forth." Considered almost organic, Leaves of Grass was a continuing project which Whitman augmented and revised every few years until his death in 1892--by which time it included 383 poems. However, it was this original edition that Ralph Waldo Emerson called "The most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed." Taking its title from themes of fertility, universality, and cyclical life, with language reminiscent of Shakespeare and the Hebraic poetry in the Bible, the book was quite radical in form and content and was not well received at the time. Today it is considered one of the great classics of American literature and a towering work of poetry. This B&N edition includes an introduction by the renowned poet and critic Malcolm Cowley.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781291047479
  • Publisher: Lulu.com
  • Publication date: 8/30/2012
  • Sold by: LULU PRESS
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 149,744
  • File size: 891 KB

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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Read an Excerpt

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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Table of Contents

Introduction and Celebration vii
Suggestions for Further Reading xxxix
Facsimile Frontispiece 2
Facsimile Title Page 3
Whitman's Preface 5
Song of Myself 28
A Song for Occupations 97
To Think of Time 109
The Sleepers 117
I Sing the Body Electric 129
Faces 137
Song of the Answerer 142
Europe: The 72d and 73d Years of These States 146
A Boston Ballad 148
There Was a Child Went Forth 151
Who Learns My Lesson Complete? 154
Great Are the Myths 156
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Reading Group Guide

1. Critic and poet Lewis Turco maintains that, contrary to the otherwise nearly universally accepted view, Whitman is not America's most innovative and important poet. He did nothing new, Turco argues, and "the level of his competence was not very high-he retained his poor ear throughout his life; his poems are too long, too disorganized, too pompous, too repetitious, too boring." Do you agree or disagree with this assessment?

2. Although Leaves of Grass might appear to be an amorphous, unstructured mass (as Turco suggests above), Whitman spent nearly forty years carefully revising it, reordering the poems, deleting poems or sections of poems, and adding new poems and cycles. He insisted that there was an overall unity and structure to the book (and stated that the ninth and final edition, the "Death-bed" edition published in 1892, was the last word on it). Do you perceive an overall unity in the book? Is there a discernible structure to it?

3. Walt Whitman is often called the poet of democracy and of America; one of the best-known and most often quoted poems in Leaves of Grass is "For You O Democracy" in "Calamus." How does Leaves of Grass answer the question of what democracy is and what it means to be an American?

4. In The Good Gray Poet, one of the first biographies of Whitman, William Douglas O'Connor explained in words that Whitman himself acknowledged that one of the primary purposes of Leaves of Grass was to save
sexuality "from the keeping of blackguards and debauchees, to which it has been abandoned"-by which he meant rescue it from libertines, whose dissolute behavior made sex disrespectable tomiddle-class Victorian sensibilities. One American reviewer of the 1855 edition described Whitman as having "a degrading, beastly sensuality, that is fast rotting the core of all the social virtues" and a British reviewer asked, "Is it possible that the most prudish nation on earth will adopt a poet whose indecencies stink in the nostrils?" How is sexuality represented in Leaves of Grass?

5. There are many recurrent themes, symbols, images, and motifs in Leaves of Grass as a whole, as well as in particular poems and cycles of poems. Consider, for example, the following: a) The use of the star, the lilac, and the bird in "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" (What do they symbolize and how do they relate to each other? How do they contribute to the structure of what many critics consider to be one of the finest poems ever written in the English language?); b) The recurrence of the word "mother" or "mothers" (more than one hundred times) in the book; and c) the repeated invocation of odor, fragrance, and perfume throughout the book.

6. The Civil War was a defining event in Walt Whitman's life, and the poems in "Drum-Taps" are a testimony to the impact the time he spent as a nurse to both Northern and Southern soldiers in the army hospitals of Washington, D. C. had on him. What view of the war is expressed by the narrative persona, and does the perspective of the persona change over the course of the cycle of poems?

7. Discuss the following stylistic aspects of Leaves of Grass: a) lists and catalogues; b) the extensive use of parentheses; c) parallelism (the development of rhythm via a repetition of ideas and sentences rather than through accents and syllables); d) the repetition of sounds and words; and e) punctuation.

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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 231 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 16, 2011

    Dont buy this

    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.

    16 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 7, 2011

    -THE BEST OF THE BEST!-

    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!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 5, 2011

    recommended for poetry lovers

    while the formatting is awful it doesn't necessarily detract from the outstanding poetry that Walt W. has left us to ponder and love!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    This is an Awesome Collection

    This is an awesome collection to have in one's own library.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 30, 2014

    I've always compared poetry to music lyrics. And like many albu

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2013

    He speaks in tongues....a must have!

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2013

    Highly recommended. I wish you weirdos who

    Get off on wasting space here communicating with each other would do us all a favor. Get a job. Get a life. Get an education. You all sound like a bunch of losers.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 8, 2013

    Poetry,the Beautiful.

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2013

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2012

    Amy

    So r u all like brothers or wht :)

    1 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2012

    Alesh

    He yells NO STUPID GATORS GO BUCK EYES

    1 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2012

    Major formatting issues!!!

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2012

    Damion

    Damion-they football game is on.

    1 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2012

    Hunter

    He laughs at brandon and falls off the couch-Hunter.

    1 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 15, 2009

    AMAZING

    I have always yearned for this book, and knew I would never be able to find a copy.Not only did I locate a

    a copy of this timeless treasure, but a brand new print from Barnes & Noble Books. My most wonderful find yet. Thank you so much, B&N, for making available the past into the present and for the future.
    Paradise Lost by Milton was also the other treasure I was able to acquire to complete my love of literature.

    Thank you so much.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    I liked this book

    This book was very insperational to me

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2005

    Leaves of Grass

    I think Walt Whitman's poems are sensational!I fell in love with his poems and now I read them all the time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2004

    The great American book of poetry

    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'.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2004

    Excellent poetry.!

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2003

    This poet had the courage to write his life in verse

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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