Leaves of Grass

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Overview

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 ...
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Leaves of Grass (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

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," which was published in 1892.

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: 9781400118052
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/3/2010
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged CD
  • Sales rank: 717,352
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Mel Foster has narrated over 150 audiobooks and has won several awards. Twice an Audie finalist for 1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History by Charles Bracelen Flood and Finding God in Unexpected Places by Philip Yancey, he won for the latter title.

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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

Average Rating 3.5
( 225 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(101)

4 Star

(45)

3 Star

(29)

2 Star

(13)

1 Star

(37)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 227 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 5, 2010

    Not formatted for Nook

    This was one of the first books I downloaded for the Nook and was pretty disappointed to see that the formatting is really messed up. It looks better in small type size, but on medium it will make incorrect line breaks, which is often disastrous to the poetry. On any size type it will never make indentions to show that a line is continued. I haven't downloaded any other poetry on nook so I'm not sure if this is a widespread issue or an isolated one.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 5, 2013

    As others say here I was very disappointed that my first e book

    As others say here I was very disappointed that my first e book experience had to be this one. The formating is all wrong. The line breaks are wrong and there are no hanging indentations which Whitman used a lot of. I would urge anyone to read Leaves of Grass, but not this copy. B and N should fix this. Whitman deserves better.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted March 26, 2013

    To the RPers:

    Hey guys. Can you please find some other way to roleplay with each other? I'm not dissing roleplaying at all! I'm a teen just like you who enjoys a good rpg every once in a while. What I DON'T enjoy is a bunch of you guys taking over a space like this that is meant for something else, like reviewing a book. The reviw button is meant for giving your helpful oppinion on a book, not messaging back and forth. Try texting each other or using a site like Facebook, or somewhere else that has messaging capabilities. The other readers would really appreciate it!
    Thanks!
    -Ashlee

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 31, 2010

    Love the text, hate the formatting.

    This really is painful to read on the NOOKcolor since the line wrapping was never reformatted to reflow as font size is adjusted. The reviewer before me warned of this problem but I wasnt able to see the poems because the whole sample consisted of foreword. Dumb question, but can I get my $$ back?

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 30, 2013

    My favorite work of poetry. Captures everything I feel about the

    My favorite work of poetry. Captures everything I feel about the world. I love reading this outdoors!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted January 19, 2013

    Bree

    Am I the only one in this room, besides my pet, that ha a human lifespan?! O-O so Friends are forever, legit! XD

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted September 27, 2012

    Alesh

    No dude the gators should be the weeners. He cracks up laughing.

    1 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2005

    The Perfect Sleeping Pill

    Uncle Walt was considered one of the greatest poets in American History, but I would have to say he is the biggest disappointment in Literature. Leaves of Grass (Bowels of Gas) is so boring it could put you to sleep in the middle of a raging battlefield. I recall him writing a review on Poe, stating Edgar was a nothing, well, (laughing) guess what, no one reads Whitman anymore, yet, Poe is taught in every literature class. The only GOOD thing Whitman ever wrote was, 'Oh Captain, my Captain.' The rest is pure garbage. So, unless you need a good sleeping pill to knock you out, don't bother buying/reading this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted October 7, 2004

    a perennial favorite

    Whitman didn't begin writing great poetry- or much of anything at all- before he 'came out,' to himself, in the sexual sense, but also in the greater exploratory and transcendent sense. His best poems are those in which he embraces even death and decimation- as the same life that exists within birth and beauty. Whitman arguably has no actual 'art'- only the kind of originary, inexplicable, uncopyable art that a few others had, for one, Shakespeare.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2013

    Demonic Bell

    Smirks. We dont have one reslm. Ull never find our galaxy. For ur not ine of us. He frowns and runs disapearing.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted January 19, 2013

    To all

    Hilari bell is where everyones at.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2012

    APPLE-ICATION

    STUPID CHATROOMS. I BELIEVE DUMN

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2012

    Jsjs

    Sjsjs

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2012

    Jason kiki

    "If you dont mind c" he smacks kikis and julid azzz
    Zz

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2012

    Zara

    I dont even rp in ur group lol

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2012

    Jane

    Hurry kiki....

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2012

    Dameion

    Hello?

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted October 3, 2012

    Erik

    Walks in muscualr outshirt hanfing but abbs showing hey ladies

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted March 10, 2013

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2012

    Phoenix

    U know if u post in firts result and integrity in second and truth in third u can rp all on different posts. And u can stay here if u like.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 227 Customer Reviews

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