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According to Wikipedia: "...a poetry collection by the American poet Walt Whitman. Among the poems in the collection are "Song of Myself," "I Sing the Body Electric," "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking," and Whitman's elegy to the assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd." Whitman spent his entire life writing Leaves of Grass, revising it in several editions until his death." Based on customer feedback, I corrected the end-of-line problem (generated by Kindle's conversion program), and added an "active" table of contents with hyperlinks to each of the 35 books/sections.
- The Strength of the Human Spirit
Leaves of Grass is a classic collection of inspired poetry by one of the most foreword poets of his time. The poetry speaks of Walt Whitman's connection to his fellow man, nature, and to God. It is not to be missed.
Leaves of Grass speaks to the turbulent times in which Whitman lived, being the Civil War era. He speaks out against the horror of war and he embraces the spirit of compassion for his comrades. Yet the book is also a reflection on matters relating largely to uplifting themes. His poetry has evoked thoughts about what is of value within my life. Even though it is the product of another era, it speaks to the timeless values of humankind.
As the author of a spiritually-themed novel entitled "The Misadventures of Sister Mary Olga Fortitude," I look for books that provide food for my soul. This is one that certainly hit home for me. It is also a book written by a gay man. Since I am gay myself, I appreciated the affirming nature of Whitman who embraced his sexuality with little judgment. This was a remarkable example which reflected his inner peace during a time when being a homosexual was not accepted.
Whether or not you are a man, woman, gay, or otherwise, this book will speak to you. It will help you to embrace humanity, your spirit, and all of creation
Davis Aujourd'hui, author of "The Misadventures of Sister Mary Olga Fortitude"
- America's great religious book
I carry a copy of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass with me where ever I go. I think that it is America's great religious book; it contains just about everything one would need to know to live a good life.
Whitman published many different editions of this book. The one I carry is the 1892 "death-bed" eddition, which contains virtually all the poetry he ever published. However I also own the "first" edition, published in 1855. In this version the poems are published without titles, so that each poem stands on its own, without any images guiding the reader before hand. I recommend either edition - or both!...more info
- The original lean, bursting on the scene, Whitman
4 1/2 stars, really, but we can't do that. This is the original 1855 version. Whitman added to the collection throughout his life, ending up with an overstuffed and very uneven "deathbed" version, which is better known. There are some good poems in it which aren't in the original, such as When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom'd, but there's a lot of pretty weak stuff, too. The 1855 has a small number of pretty consistently excellent poems which are highly original and loosely but definitely connected. Reading it is a very different experience from wading through the bloated, inconsistent final version - there's something Whitmanesque (i.e., at it's best) about the original collection as a unit. Malcolm Cowley's introduction is also a bit wild and wooly (written in the late 60s or early 70s), but interesting and enlightening....more info
- 1855 EDITION
According to the OUP website, this is the 1855 edition:
"The publication of Leaves of Grass in July 1855 was a landmark event in literary history. Ralph Waldo Emerson judged the book 'the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom America has yet contributed.' Nothing like the volume had ever appeared before. Everything about it--the unusual jacket and title page, the exuberant preface, the twelve free-flowing, untitled poems embracing every realm of experience--was new. The 1855 edition broke new ground in its relaxed style, which prefigured free verse; in its sexual candor; in its images of racial bonding and democratic togetherness; and in the intensity of its affirmation of the sanctity of the physical world.
"This Anniversary Edition captures the typeface, design and layout of the original edition supervised by Whitman himself. Today's readers get a sense of the 'ur-text' of Leaves of Grass, the first version of this historic volume, before Whitman made many revisions of both format and style. The volume also boasts an afterword by Whitman authority David Reynolds, in which he discusses the 1855 edition in its social and cultural contexts: its background, its reception, and its contributions to literary history. There is also an appendix containing the early responses to the volume, including Emerson's letter, Whitman's three self-reviews, and the twenty other known reviews published in various newspapers and magazines."
Hope this helps.
- Excellent edition of Whitman's Masterwork
Choosing the fullest, most complete version of Whitman's text, before the final editing of the deathbed edition, but following the additions made after the Civil War, the Norton Critical is a must have for students of poetry, or literature, and of nature. The wild, ecstatic hunger for the world, the ravishment of the senses, as Norman Mailer put it (though not about Whitman), the mysticism of the flesh, Whitman is, arguably, the most accomplished poet of American letters.
A must read for poets, students, and pagans (Whitman as spirit of the Green Man himself!)....more info
- Oxford World's Classics version is the "Death-bed" edition from 1891
More as a point of clarification than review: the Oxford World's Classics edition is not the 1855 edition. (All the comments & editorial reviews for various versions of Leaves of Grass seem to have all be funneled into the same place.)
According to the "Note on the Text" in the Oxford edition, it is the "death-bed" edition published in 1891-92. It is based on the 1881 edition.
If you want the original 1855 version, Penguin offers it. Search: "Leaves of Grass Penguin classics".
In any case: the 5 stars are for Whitman. ...more info
- Whitman can be tedious but he's still important
I have my issues with Walt Whitman's poetry.... but I cannot deny its importance. I think everyone should at least read a little of it. I've been forced to read Song of Myself so many times I can't stand it any more but somewhere in there are some really beautiful lines. But you have to deal with some... other ones sometimes. I don't really enjoy his poetry that much. I value it as important. This specific edition (ISBN: 0140421998) is a recreation of the very first edition of Leaves of Grass. Over the years Whitman added poems and changed some of these so you'd be reading the first draft of some things, so to speak. This is the best edition, in my opinion. It shows Whitman at his freshest and I think he second-guessed himself too much with some of the revisions. Plus this is a pretty thin edition so if you've never read Whitman then this could be a good starter. Don't get me wrong, people interested in poetry should read Whitman. But don't worry if you feel you must put it away afterwards....more info
- THE SOURCE of ALL American Prose/Poesy
Hemingway said all American writing comes from one book, Huck Finn. Wrong! He also believed himself a better writer than Fitzgerald. Wrong! I'm no literary expert, I haven't gone to Harvard or Yale or any of those overpriced universities for spoiled rich kids but in my expert opinion all American literature: rhythm, length, flow, syntax, form, etc., came from one book & this is it. Henry Miller was spot-on when he said America has only produced one great writer & that is Walt Whitman. Hemingway's style wasn't jacked from Stein or Anderson, well, maybe a bit from Anderson, so much as Whitman. Yeah, I know Bloom has drawn a connection between Hemingway & Whitman before, the repetition-ploy & all that, but what I'm telling you, if you'll forgive the trite clich¨¦, there was poetry before Whitman & its wasn't the same after.
If you're short on time, forget Wordsworth or Keats or all those other `lazing the daisy breeze' 19th century knuckleheads, read this book & memorize some quotes (to impress people at office holiday parties).
Yes, I do believe this is the same book Clinton gave Lewinsky for her birthday. Wonder if there were any stains on it?
- A looser
I bought this and returned it. There must be someone out there with the right voice and reading skills to bring us Whitman's words and rhythms. Ms. Gibson's soprano sing-song doesn't make it. ...more info
- Cowley's Introduction
Please note that I am reviewing the Penguin Classics printing of The First (1855) Edition.
I trust that I need say nothing about Leaves of Grass itself. It is, alongside the poems of Hart Crane, Rimbaud, Lautreamont, Blake, Lawrence, Emily Dickinson and St John Perse, a totally singular experience. I have never read anything like "Song Of Myself" and "The Sleepers", and I am certain that you will love them just as much.
I do, however, have certain reservations about Malcolm Cowley's introduction. It is well-intentioned enough, but I would like to issue a few words of warning, as it is certainly a very confused affair, one that will no doubt perplex many Whitman neophytes. For Cowley, the task of Whitman interpretation couldn't be simpler, one need only look towards Indian Vedic philosophy and Buddhist scripture for an all-purpose key. While this certainly seems attractive and convenient- a lazy expedient for phlegmatic types- Cowley himself realizes that it is totally incongruous with certain aspects of Whitman:
"Most of Whitman's doctrines, though by no means all of them, belong to the mainstream of Indian philosophy. In some respects he went against the stream. Unlike most of the Indian sages, for example, he was not a thoroughgoing idealist. He did not believe that the whole world of the senses, of desires, of birth and death, was only maya, illusion, nor did he hold that it was a sort of purgatory; instead he praised the world as real and joyful. He did not despise the body, but proclaimed that it was as miraculous as the soul."
Having meandered into a cul-de-sac, Cowley's attempt at escape is characteristically sloppy:
"...it must be remembered that Indian philosophy or theology is not such a unified structure as it appears to us from a distance. Whitman might have found Indian sages or gurus and even whole sects that agreed with one or another of his heterodoxies (perhaps excepting his belief in material progress). One is tempted to say that instead of being a Christian heretic, he was an Indian rebel and sectarian. Sometimes he seems to be a Mahayana Buddhist..."
Pedants are like spiders- they love cocooning themselves in their own contradictions. All of the difficulties that Cowley encounters here stem from his insufferable compulsion to categorise, and hence domesticate, Whitman. I take issue with this preposterous statement:
"One is tempted to say..."
No, Mr Cowley, YOU are tempted to make these conclusions, any sober reader is willing to meet Whitman on his own terms, to delight in his incomparable vigor. Further on, we find the following:
"Since the Indian mystical philosophies are elaborate structures, based on conceptions that have been shaped and defined by centuries of discussion, they help to explain Whitman's ideas at points in the first edition whre he seems at first glance to be vague or self-contradictory. There is, for example, his UNUSUAL combination of realism- sometimes brutal realism- and serene optimism."
Unusual, perhaps, if you insist on translating the poem into Vedic terms. It is a little depressing that scholars are so blind to the revelatory miracles of Leaves Of Grass. Here was a poet attempting to forge new forms of expression commensurate to his time, a capacious, all-enveloping style that would sing the songs of democracy. To thank him for his troubles, scholars do the only thing they are capable of, dragging Whitman into the malodorous mire of comparison. This line is redolent of Plato, this one reeks of Vimalakirti, this shadowy section can be illuminated with the torch of the Gita, all of it is regurgitated thought, relics coated in new varnish.
What makes matters worse is Cowley's admission that Whitman had read none of the cited works in 1852. Yet, the empirical evidence admits no contestation- the symptoms of Whitman's mystical paroxysm are largely identical with prior examples. "Leaves Of Grass", we are told, is another manifestation of the 'perennial philosophy'- for all of its ornate embellishments and flourishes, it is, in fact, not very revolutionary at all. Once you master the rudiments of said philosophy, the swelling surge of Whitman's writing is easily navigable. Here we see Cowley defeated by his own epistemological suppositions. Cowley's method, after all, is that of a good Platonist. Poetry, for him, marks a poet's gradual emergence from anamnesia, a rapturous remembrance of eternal truths.
In actuality, the introduction is not really about "Leaves Of Grass" at all. It is about the scholar's will to power, his inexorable urge to subordinate every literary text to precedent. In reducing "Song Of Myself" to yet another incarnation of Hindu absorption, Cowley does a severe injustice to a great American poem. He would have us believe that "Song Of Myself" is little better than a journal entry in verse, a haphazard approximation of a subjective mystical experience that has been repeated throughout history. To further substantiate his claim, Cowley compares a stanza in "Leaves Of Grass" to a Vedic text, noting their thematic and stylistic similarities. Does this not consolidate Whitman's unflinching faith in metempsychosis? In "Song Of Myself", Whitman effects the transmigration of souls, channelling the voice of the Vedas. The complacence and self-contentment of Cowley is, for this reader at least, truly vulgar.
I am not disputing the notion that Whitman has a consistent doctrine beneath all of his creative output, but the system must be sought WITHIN his texts and NOT without. This is the thought that courses throughout all of Whitman's writing, that of pure immanence. To those approaching Whitman for the first time, I hope you have the good sense to treat Cowley's introduction with the bemusement that it deserves....more info
- This was the first book I ever read.
After reading this book in college I developed an unquenchable thurst for reading. Walt Whitman opened my eyes and my mind to the posibilities of what could be put onto paper. I had never really liked reading until I opened this book and have not stopped reading since. Walt was a true American. It is incredible that Walt Whitman can make accurate references in his poems to just about every facit of American life. It doesn't take very many pages before you feel as if Walt has been in your shoes, seen things through your eyes, thought the things you have thought and felt the feelings you have felt. I was amazed that he knew technical terms and proper methods for everything from building houses to sail a boat. He really does seem like he has been everywhere and done everything and that made it very easy to open up and accept his ideas for internal discussion.
A must read....more info
- Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman is probably the greatest American poet of all time, criticised for his differences he was only recognised much later on, more appreciated in Europe than in his own country. This book is his finest work. The 1855 edition is probably the best out of all....more info
- Fallen Leaves
Although he may be as genius as he is, Walt Whitman is just random. His structure and development are atrocious, leaving us in a cloud of confusion. His lists, names, and metaphors can only be described as random thought. And don't even get me started on his comma use. That's how my little sister writes for crying out loud! I mean, don't you remember? You'd get lucky if you found an "and" in there somewhere. Granted, he did revolutionize poetry and writing as we know it. However, certain selections for his ever famous Song of Myself show that he can sure describe those bodily actions that he seems to love so much. I can cut him some slack, probably because he's a romantic writer, but his random stringing of words, phrases, and lists do his poetry injustice. Poor Jonathon Edwards would be turning in his grave......more info
- Give the 1855 version a try
What more can be said about Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass"? This 19th century work is more than just a poetic masterpiece; it is a pivotal landmark in the history of world literature. Read "Leaves" and you will understand why Whitman is hailed as a poetic ancestor by poets, both male and female, of many different ethnic and national backgrounds. His is truly a universal voice.
Whitman published the first edition of "Leaves" in 1855, and continued to revise and expand the book until it had grown into the monumental final version. While the "deathbed" edition is an essential text, I'd like to put in a plug for the much smaller 1855 edition, which has been reprinted with an introduction by Malcolm Cowley. The "deathbed" edition may be too large and intimidating a literary tapestry for Whitman "virgins"; the reprinted 1855 edition may thus be a good way to begin exploring the bounteous poetic talent and vision of this giant.
The Cowley-introduced edition also includes Whitman's original prose introduction, which is itself a remarkable piece of literature. While the 1855 "Leaves" is missing vast sections of the deathbed version, it is still a stunning work of art that succeeds as a self-sufficient piece of literature and philosophy. In this "embryonic" version of the soon-to-evolve masterpiece, we already discover Whitman's pungent eroticism, his embrace of paradox, and his playful theological exploration. His language is sensuous, outrageous, tender, and amazing, and is full of compassion for all living beings.
Whitman is more than just a great poet; his work is a sort of prophecy for both the secular and multifaith worlds. So read "Leaves" in either the embryonic version or the ultimate version, and embark on an unforgettable poetic journey....more info
- Spend some time with this fine poet
I would heartily encourage you to spend some time
with this book. Whitman is a joy to read and his
love affair with language is extremely contagious.
As a poet, Whitman expanded the allowable bounds
of poetic expression and as such was one of the true
founders of free verse as a mode of expression.
He is one of the best voices in America's young
cutural foundation. This is a book which young
poets should spend a summer with: it will open your
imagination to a new degree...more info
- Not the 1855
At least as available for the Kindle, this is not the 1855 edition. It seems to be the final edition, which is of course great, but not what I intended to get based on the product description posted. Also, the foreward and afterward mentioned in the description are missing. I don't expect the moon for a low price, but I do expect to get what I pay for....more info
- This is it
If you read only one peice of American literature this should be it. Whitman is a true Amercian. He feels the way we feel and he has seen the things we see. No matter who you are you will you think that he has read your mind...only in no so modern english....more info
- Poetry for the soul
If you want a beautiful 're-set' to your hectic life, this is a must. It settles, and soothes; having a beauty all it's own. And, yes dear, bikers can read....more info
- Walt Whitma's "Leaves of Grass"
If you care for literature at all, even if your interest in it exceeds no further than reading the morning paper, Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass," is a must read. He is truly one of the greatest poets, revolutionaries, historians, and Americans to ever live. As a poet, Whitman lures his reader in with work exploding with passion and inexhaustable energy. As a revolutionist, he baisically tore up any rule book to writing, stripping away any limitations, and paving the path for further free, independent thinkers. He was unaffraid to rebel against the narrow-mindedness of his time, making himself a leader as one of the very first poets to ever use "free verse," a technique rellious on its own. In doing so, this great leader was criticized and looked on disapprovingly for his work during much of his life time, and like many other artists who dare to be unique, his true genius was never fully recognized until after his death. As a historian and as an American, Whitman has taken these works of his and has combined them into the nations most patriotic yet brutally honest text book.It is in writing of himself and his own personal experiences that Whitman imbeds the history of this country, both dark and nationalistic. Through his time working as a volunteer nurse to the wounded and dying soldiers during the Civil War, Whitman writes often of the terror of war, making it one of his most recognizable themes throughout much of his work. He also brings us back to a time in history in which those who believed in equal rights for all, including persons of every race a gender, was considered rebellious; for in such beliefs, Whitman took religions that placed severe restrictions over such things as sexuality, and attacked them. The reason I am so confident in recommending this book to any reader, is that you are given a selection of editions to choose from; the edition you choose for yourself, fitted to your familiarity with the poet. I cannot promise that will fall absolutely in love with this book, every person has their own tastes, however, I can promise that if nothing else, you will walk away from this book with appreciation and understanding the value in reading it....more info
- The Greatest American Poet's Masterpiece.
Giving Walt Whitman only five stars out of five does him an injustice. Walt Whitman is perhaps the finest American poet ever as well as the most quintessentially American poet. His poetry never dates itself. It is as contemporary as if he just wrote it last week. Walt Whitman's poems overflow with life and energy, pulsate with excitement, and contain deep though simply-told truths that rival those of any wise man in history. Much maligned during life and after for the eroticism of his writing, he never let his inhibitions hold back his writing and thus it sparkles with honesty. Walt Whitman was also a great patriot, who loved America in a way modern Americans would do well to emulate. He sought it out on its own terms and recorded what he saw in his poetry. His war poems, written during the American Civil War, are some of the best war poems existing in literature. Whitman knew his subject, having spent much time caring for the wounded soldiers in the hospitals and visiting battlefields. His poems create vivid pictures, richly textured, as real as you read them as if you were seeing the scene yourself. And the dialog he carries on with the reader makes the reader feel that Whitman, if he were still alive, would like nothing more than to sit down and discuss life. He is one of the few poets who manages to establish a rapport with his reader, to anticipate his reader's reactions and talk to each one through the poem. Walt Whitman should be read by any and every literate American. 'Leaves of Grass' will change anyone who dares to read it....more info
- The True American Patriot
After reading a portion of Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass", particularly the preface and "Song of Myself", I found it to be inspiring and uplifting. Whitman is the most enthuiastic American poet I have ever read and his passion for life and nature is amazing. He did not ever want to miss a second of life or the smallest detail of nature. He shares his limitless love for all Americans, including, of course, himself. I particularly enjoy his frequent usage of listing without commas, which I find livens his excitement for life even more. Whitman, although he may come off as a bit over eager to some, truly makes you realize how blessed you are and how lucky you are to live in this beautiful place, and he reminds us all that we should not take any of these blessings for granted. Something I find I need to be reminded of more than I should. I recommend this book to all....more info
- America's First Great Poet
Please forgive the presumptuous title of my review. But Walt Whitman was and still is one of the most influential poets I have ever read. He began life on a farm on Long Island, but times got bad and his family uprooted itself and moved to Brooklyn. Brooklyn at that time was a growing city unto itself and trades were needed. Thus Whitman learned the trade of printer. But his soul led him to a higher calling. He became a jounrnalist and wrote poetry. His early efforts did not amount to anything major. Yet sometimes the unimaginable happens in a man's life. A sudden thrust of inspiration strikes one like a bolt of lightning. Then something new and unique is born out of this inception - a new form of poetry - what is today referred to as free verse. Yes, Whitman is the father of the form, and perhaps one of its greatest practitioners. The beat poets who were to follow in his footsteps never really rose to his great height of mystic revelation. I think that's what the other reviewers are talking about when they refer to Whitman's religiosity. For Whitman was the poet of a new world, a new nation, a growing entity that would go on to fulfill an old dream of mankind. That is, the dream of a thoroughly new man, a man who was free from the past, a man who could find his soul was one with the fathomless cosmos. Hence, "Walt Whitman, a cosmos" is a very telling way Whitman has of describing himself to his reader.
My favorite poem by Walt Whitman is his "Song of Myself." It contains the seed of everything he had lived as a human being and every vision he would realize as a mystic of epic proportions. After that, I believe his next great poem was "I Sing The Body Electric." "Drum Taps" was also quite an interesting addition to "Leaves of Grass." Also, "When Lilacs Last In The Dooryard Bloomed" is Whitman at his poetic best.
So it is without any reservation that I am highly recommending "Leaves Of Grass" to all and sundry as a must read. Especially now, in the wake of 9/11 we need to reaffirm what it means to be American, and I know of no better American Visionary to help in this cause then Walt Whitman....more info
- Essential American poetry
Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" is a collection of some of the finest American free-verse poetry ever written. Outward from his home on Brooklyn, Whitman soars out over our great nation, painting a sweeping portrait of mid-nineteenth century America and its diverse inhabitants. Whitman covers a panorama of ideas and themes, from lofty, aloof musings on the nature of man, to piercing depictions of the horrors of war. Gems of wisdom hang from Whitman's web of of verse like dew drops - easy to see but hard to grasp. This is a powerful work, and a never-ending source of beauty. Unfortunately for me, I am not a big fan of free verse, making this work harder for me to enjoy than I had hoped.
Which edition do I recommend? That really depends on what you are looking for. If you are just interested in getting a taste of Whitman, I would recommend some of the abridged versions. I don't feel that reading all 700+ pages of Whitman's poetry is necessary for anyone but his biggest fans and students. For a complete version, I found the Modern Library edition acceptable, but nothing spectacular. This work has a multitude of editions, and I would recommend actually holding them in your hand before making a decision on which best suits your needs....more info
- Leaves of Grass
Having read only tid bits, here and there, from Leaves of Grass, I found that it was full of truly unique American poetry. Whitman definitely achieved his goal of becoming a truly innovative poet. The fact that he rarely uses any type of meter, rhyme scheme, or exaggerated rhetorical devices almost says that he has mastered the basic fundamentals of poetry and surpassed his peers. He is so far above the simple and frequently used methods that he must create his own fresh and new style of writing. I found Leaves of Grass to be a lot to grapple with as a high school student, especially his philosophy pertaining to Deism, and yet, it was most intriguing and made me want to simply delve deeper into it. I look forward to completing Leaves of Grass and recommend it to anyone looking for truly original forms of American poetry....more info
- A Lover of all Forms
Whitman is, no doubt, the truest. Many other popular poets are regarded too highly for their reflections on reality. Whitman is beyond mere relection, he has seen and deciphered the underlying objects of so much other work. Masterful....more info