Leaves of Grass

Leaves of Grass

by Walt Whitman

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781721217021
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 10/26/2018
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.89(d)

About the Author

Born in 1819, Walt Whitman became one of America’s best-known poets before his death in 1892. Often called the “father of free verse,” Whitman spent much of his life revising and augmenting his “special and entire self-chosen poetic utterance,” Leaves of Grass.

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.

Table of Contents

Introduction and Celebrationvii
Suggestions for Further Readingxxxix
Facsimile Frontispiece2
Facsimile Title Page3
Whitman's Preface5
Song of Myself28
A Song for Occupations97
To Think of Time109
The Sleepers117
I Sing the Body Electric129
Faces137
Song of the Answerer142
Europe: The 72d and 73d Years of These States146
A Boston Ballad148
There Was a Child Went Forth151
Who Learns My Lesson Complete?154
Great Are the Myths156

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.

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.

Interviews

Contains approximately 60,000 words.

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Leaves of Grass 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
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.
jayceebee on LibraryThing 3 months ago
For some reason, Walt Whitman and Brahms are tied up in my mind as the same person...kinda like God and Santa Claus were when I was a kid. Regardless, Whitman (like Brahms) is obviously a genius!
ramage on LibraryThing 3 months ago
very nice Penguin reissue of the 1855 edition, with an introduction by Harold Bloom
Jordan Ballew More than 1 year ago
A must read for everyone. Uncle Walt's work is, at its worst, beautiful, and at its best, life changing.
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