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Contains the first and "deathbed" editions of "Leaves of Grass," and virtually all of Whitman's prose, with reminiscences of nineteenth-century New York City, notes on the Civil War, especially his service in Washington hospitals and glimpses of President Lincoln, and attacks on the misuses of national wealth after the war.


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Contains the first and "deathbed" editions of "Leaves of Grass," and virtually all of Whitman's prose, with reminiscences of nineteenth-century New York City, notes on the Civil War, especially his service in Washington hospitals and glimpses of President Lincoln, and attacks on the misuses of national wealth after the war.

30 review for Poetry and Prose

  1. 4 out of 5

    WILLIAM2

    Started on the expanded 530 page edition (1891-92) of "Leaves of Grass," the so called deathbed version. Reading as a periodic alternative to prose, this should keep me busy for a month or more. I had finished 1855 edition a few years ago, which is exquisite. His main device is the catalog. He inventories America, good and bad. He loves the totality. It's fascinating how this poetry of exhortation, seemingly addressed to a multitude, can also be intimate. What a paean to masculinity, to the body Started on the expanded 530 page edition (1891-92) of "Leaves of Grass," the so called deathbed version. Reading as a periodic alternative to prose, this should keep me busy for a month or more. I had finished 1855 edition a few years ago, which is exquisite. His main device is the catalog. He inventories America, good and bad. He loves the totality. It's fascinating how this poetry of exhortation, seemingly addressed to a multitude, can also be intimate. What a paean to masculinity, to the body! The play of physique through clothing—and without clothing. The naked male is iconographic here. It's always a surprise to me how very transparent he was in his preferences so early in our history. Women by contrast, though he seeks to balance his men with them, lack physical detail that brings the lusty descriptions of men to life. ("The Female equally with the Male I sing.") Yet women are far more likely to be described by their setting, the home, or their place amid a tumult of children, than for their physicality. Part of this was simply the age, when there was great outrage against prurient feminine depiction, among so-called polite (i.e. hypocritical) society at least; part seems to be Whitman's disinterest. I'm reminded of Michelangelo's Medici Tombs in Florence, whose female nudes have been criticized as too male, their musculature wrong, their breasts appended almost as an afterthought. Specimen Days begins with an overview of both the paternal and maternal branches of his family and their lives on Long Island, New York, in the early 1800s. The description of L.I. Includes some of his boyish activities there, his friends and their exploits. It's a vivid dispatch from another world. That he writes of these matters so late in life--he visits the old family graveyards and resurrects his dead--lends special poignance. He moves on to his well-known visits to the bedsides of injured Civil War (1861-65) soldiers, mostly Union but Confederate also, among whom his brother George lay convalescing for a time. He writes letters home for the soldiers, distributes small amounts of money, listens to their tales, reads them the Bible, kisses a few, (probably fellates a few more) and watches them die. Most are amputees, some gravely ill with typhoid. Some laid helpless on the field of battle for days before being brought to primitive field hospitals. Oh heavens, what scene is this? – is this indeed humanity – these butcher's shambles? There are several of them. There they lie, in the largest, in an open space in the woods, from 200 to 300 poor fellows – the groans and screams – the odor of blood, mixed with the fresh scent of the night, the grass, the trees – the slaughter-house! O well is it their mothers, their sisters cannot see them – cannot conceive, and never conceived, these things. In the section called "A Cavalry Camp," Whitman's enthusiasm--can we call it ecstasy?--at for the first time being among actual soldiers, and not only the sick, seems to me keen. Back in Washington in August of 1863, he daily sees President Lincoln on L'Enfant's broad, dusty avenues. Before long they have a nodding acquaintence with each other. Sometimes the president is in a barouche, at other times he rides a grey horse amid a detachment of uniformed cavalry, swords drawn. I've read only half of Specimen Days, in which everything seems to work. Every phrase is compelling. After the war, Whitman stayed in Washington to work in the Office of the Attorney General in 1866 and '67 and, he says, "for some time afterward." In February 1873 he's stricken with a "paralysis" that sounds like stroke. It forces him to retreat to the famous little house in Camden, New Jersey. He's bed-ridden there through 1875 and '76. On recovery he is still partly disabled but is able to retreat to a country farm belonging to his friends the Staffords on "Timber Creek, twelve or thirteen miles from where it enters the Delaware." Here the book enters a nature phase. All I see before me now are descriptions of nature. It remains to be seen if I will be as beguiled by these pages as I was by his war recollections.

  2. 4 out of 5

    James Murphy

    This time I reread only Leaves of Grass. For me it's a touchstone. I've read it many times, returning to it because I find it comforting and reassuring. Whitman himself explains it very well, in this edition on p512: "Not till the waters refuse to glisten for you and the leaves to rustle for you, do my words refuse to glisten and rustle for you." With muscular language like that combined with his demonstrated largeness of heart and care of everything in the world, his poetry is infectious. Readi This time I reread only Leaves of Grass. For me it's a touchstone. I've read it many times, returning to it because I find it comforting and reassuring. Whitman himself explains it very well, in this edition on p512: "Not till the waters refuse to glisten for you and the leaves to rustle for you, do my words refuse to glisten and rustle for you." With muscular language like that combined with his demonstrated largeness of heart and care of everything in the world, his poetry is infectious. Reading him makes me want to swagger outside and bundle up the morning and throw it over my shoulder. And this time I'm reading only the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass, influenced by the recent critical study by C. K. Williams which convincingly argues that the 1855 edition, the original, was the strongest and that the poetry Whitman added in subsequent years was weaker, therefore weakening the entire book. I'd always read the 1891-92 edition before, apparently believing the more the better, though I do remember reading the 1855 about 10 years ago. I'd forgotten the "Preface." I'd forgotten or had not realized in earlier readings it's poetry, too, a 22-page prose poem as fine as the poetry in stanzaed form which follows. I enjoyed it enormously again and expect to with each reading in my future. Rereading, 2018. And finished again 5 Jun. Great is life...and real and mystical...wherever and whoever, Great is death.... Sure as life holds all parts together, death holds all parts together; Sure as the stars return again after they merge in the light, death is great as life.

  3. 4 out of 5

    robin friedman

    Walt Whitman In The Library Of America This 1982 volume, "Walt Whitman: Poetry and Prose" edited by Justin Kaplan was among the first four books published by the Library of America as it began its mission of presenting the best works of American literature in a uniform format both scholarly and accessible to non-specialist readers. Walt Whitman (1819 -- 1892) was an excellent choice for early inclusion in the LOA, and this volume has generally stood the test of time. I had read portions of Whitman Walt Whitman In The Library Of America This 1982 volume, "Walt Whitman: Poetry and Prose" edited by Justin Kaplan was among the first four books published by the Library of America as it began its mission of presenting the best works of American literature in a uniform format both scholarly and accessible to non-specialist readers. Walt Whitman (1819 -- 1892) was an excellent choice for early inclusion in the LOA, and this volume has generally stood the test of time. I had read portions of Whitman many different times in my life, but this was my first experience reading through this LOA volume. The ongoing stay home time brought the opportunity for reading and for reflection about the United States and American democracy. I turned to Whitman for a sustained look at his writing. Coincidentally, I am at the same age, 72, as was Whitman at the time of his death. Whitman described himself as "garrulous" and wordy. This lengthy volume can be repetitious and exasperating in places. Most readers will not have the need to read this volume in its entirety. Still, I was grateful for the opportunity to spend at last an extended period of time in Whitman's company. I came away with a stronger appreciation of his work than I had gained over the years and with an increased feeling for the United States and its democratic ideals and for American patriotism during challenging times. Whitman is an American treasure. Whitman is known as a great American poet. Most of his poetry was included in a volume titled "Leaves of Grass" which he worked on incessantly, expanded, edited and revised at least six times over a nearly 40 year time span. This LOA edition begins with the first edition of "Leaves of Grass" which Whitman published in 1855. It consisted of twelve untitled poems and a Preface. This early edition in the format of its initial publication is rarely reproduced and it offers what many scholars believe is the best of Whitman in a short space before he began repeating himself. The LOA follows the 1855 version of "Leaves of Grass" with Whitman's final or "deathbed" version of his book which dates from 1891-92 and includes roughly 280 poems. Whitman carefully arranged this volume in a way he deemed effective and indicative of his themes and included his poems in the final ways he wished to leave them. Whitman wanted this long collection of "Leaves of Grass" to be regarded as one single extensive long poem. Not every poem in this collection is a masterwork, but I found reading the collection from beginning to end had a cumulative effect. Whitman sang of the value of the individual and of the value of America and its democracy. He wanted to celebrate the human body and sexuality and the human spirit. He envisioned a diverse America of freedom and promise and he understood the United States as offering the opportunity to break away from while learning the best of the hierarchical societies of Europe. Whitman was also a highly religious if nonsectarian writer who sang of the unity and beauty of creation, of death, and of immortality. His enthusiasm, his long lines, and his thought remain inspiring. In the Preface to the 1855 edition of "Leaves of Grass", Whitman wrote that "The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem." He continued: "Other states see themselves in their deputies but the genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges or churches or parlors, not even in its newspapers or investors ... but always most in the common people. ... It awaits the gigantic and generous treatment worthy of it." Whitman tried to begin a poetic treatment of the United States in the poems and editions of "Leaves of Grass". Whitman's prose writings are sometimes overlooked. This LOA volume includes the extensive volume of "Complete Prose" that Whitman published in 1892. Whitman's prose writings of greatest interest are "Specimen Days" and "Democratic Vistas". The former book is a series of short diaries and vignettes covering much of Whitman's life. The book is best known for its depictions of Whitman's activities helping wounded and ill soldiers during the Civil War and for its picture of Civil War Washington, D.C. These selections might be read with Whitman's Civil War poetry, "Drum Taps" and his poems of the death of President Lincoln all of which are included in the final edition of "Leaves of Grass". "Specimen Days" also includes nature writing, discussions of Whitman's travels west, and his views on other American authors of his day. The second prose work, "Democratic Vistas" is based on three magazine essays that Whitman had published, and it takes a sustained and in part critical look at American democracy in the aftermath of the Civil War. This is a difficult book, not always written clearly. However it is a searching and too little appreciated study of American democracy and of political philosophy. There is much in this LOA volume to be read and pondered over time, and the book doesn't all have to be read at once. Whitman wanted to encourage his readers to think for themselves and not be his followers. His work is inspiring and may help readers better understand themselves and their country. This LOA book is not complete, either with respect to Whitman's poetry or his prose. I have read a 1996 academic article "What is this you bring, my America?: The Library of America Whitman" by Whitman scholar Sam Abrams that criticizes some of the prose sections included in this collection and some of the selections left out. It also points out that some of Whitman's poetry has not been included in the volume. The omissions in poetry include a work titled "Respondez!" which Whitman himself deleted from the final version of "Leaves of Grass" because it had a more pessimistic tone than most of the poems. Readers who want an in-depth reading of Whitman's poems including this important work can readily find "Respondez!" in other sources or on-line. Taking Abrams' criticisms into account, this is still a wonderful volume of Whitman which will be more than adequate for most readers. I was glad to have the opportunity to read Whitman and to think about his vision during our country's time of difficulty. This LOA volume offers an excellent way to explore Whitman's poetry and prose. Readers might also be inspired to explore the many books in the ongoing LOA series and to think about our country and its literature. Robin Friedman

  4. 4 out of 5

    Caterina

    I've gotten more pleasure over the years from Walt Whitman's luscious, astonishing, fresh, earthy-yet-visionary, life-affirming poetry than from any other book, I think. I just keep coming back to this lover of all the world.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Gibson

    It is the only edition you will ever need. Keep it near at all times. O me! O life . . . of the questions of these recurring; Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish; Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?) Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d; Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me; Of the empty and useless years of the rest—wi It is the only edition you will ever need. Keep it near at all times. O me! O life . . . of the questions of these recurring; Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish; Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?) Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d; Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me; Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined; The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life? Answer. That you are here—that life exists, and identity; That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Helene Papageorge

    What makes this edition of Library of America Editions valuable is that they have reprinted the original versions in the front and the reworked and expanded versions which is about 2/3 of the anthology. I hadn't realised that Whitman had revised as much as he did. A must own.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Richard S

    Walt Whitman is a complete original in the history of Western literature. His poetry of nature, transcendence and sexuality does not really have any antecedents. "Song of Myself" and "Children of Adam" and many others are truly great, original poetry, sprung from the beautiful and powerful spirit of Whitman, with his profound experience of nature and of life. "Song of Myself" is his masterpiece, I read it a few times, once out loud, and found it to be a spiritual experience as much as a literary Walt Whitman is a complete original in the history of Western literature. His poetry of nature, transcendence and sexuality does not really have any antecedents. "Song of Myself" and "Children of Adam" and many others are truly great, original poetry, sprung from the beautiful and powerful spirit of Whitman, with his profound experience of nature and of life. "Song of Myself" is his masterpiece, I read it a few times, once out loud, and found it to be a spiritual experience as much as a literary one. I have a slight preference for the slightly rawer 1855 version, which springs unfiltered from Whitman's sensibility. Much of Whitman's poetry is obscure and difficult. But when he is good, there is really no one better, and he is almost a religion unto himself. He has absolutely no fear when writing, and I'm glad he stood up to Emerson's criticism of "Children of Adam" and wrote the way he did. Not that he scorns the Western tradition, but he is truly his own person, pouring pure soul into his verses. Perhaps the simplest statement of his approach and separation from tradition is "Spirit That Form'd This Scene", but the concept is fully thought out in "A Backward Glance o'er Troubled Roads." Just as astonishing as Whitman's poetry was his prose, especially the descriptions of nature in Specimen Days, which I found to be as stirring as his best poetry. Is there a greater thing ever written than "A Sun-Bath - Nakedness"? He writes about trees, birds, the stars, like no one else. Where Whitman fails is when he writes about American democracy and politics (although his comments on the Civil War are intriguing, and when he writes about seeing Abraham Lincoln on his horse, or when he writes "When Lilacs Last...." in Lincoln's memory, there is no one better). His writing about other writers can be very weak (Carlyle) but I liked his critique of Emerson and his comments on British Literature had the ring of truth. Also striking about Whitman is his humanity, both in the care and love he shows to the wounded American soldiers, and his great undying love for America in his poems and travels. He is so kind you feel sometimes a sort of holiness about him. I think he exemplifies the poet as a great person in life. My edition was the Library of America, which had the 1855 version of Leaves of Grass and then the final one, and then all of Whitman's prose that he wished to keep after his death. In all it amounted to over 1,300 pages, which made it the second to longest work in the entire Powys' list. Because of the difficulty of a substantial number of Whitman's poems, it was very slow reading, and towards the end I did not read the poems as closely as usual. So in the end, what is there to say? I view Whitman as essentially the father of most American poetry, and whatever is uniquely American about it. I also find him to be much greater genius than I think others do, mostly because of the originality and intensity of his style and his absolute fearlessness. Note that much of his poetry is sexual (and explicit), although it is never offensive or degrading. Of course it receives my highest recommendation to everyone - and in particular, I would encourage those who have never explored his prose, to take a look at "Specimen Days", which it just as memorable as his best poems. Whitman is a "monstrous genius", a true great, and pioneer in literature.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Steph

    This work has a lot more of Whitman than one is traditionally exposed to in high school. There are poems about masturbation, about homosexuality, about sexuality. There are also early works celebrating New York, the everyman, and of course Lincoln. Informative essays in the back of the work flesh out the historical background.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Keith

    Walt Whitman: Let there be commerce between us. At turns bombastic, ridiculous, beautiful, melodramatic, sublime and enlightening, you leave little unsaid and undone. What’s a reader to think? Could you be more modest? Do you blush? But that’s the beauty, isn’t it? You are indeed multitudes and contradictions. Well, friend, we are agreed. You’ll give all, and I’ll take what I want. Then we’ll walk the ebbing tide and talk about the world. Leaves of Grass (1855) – See my separate review of this: h Walt Whitman: Let there be commerce between us. At turns bombastic, ridiculous, beautiful, melodramatic, sublime and enlightening, you leave little unsaid and undone. What’s a reader to think? Could you be more modest? Do you blush? But that’s the beauty, isn’t it? You are indeed multitudes and contradictions. Well, friend, we are agreed. You’ll give all, and I’ll take what I want. Then we’ll walk the ebbing tide and talk about the world. Leaves of Grass (1855) – See my separate review of this: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/.... (5/12) Song of Myself (1891) -- I didn’t do a detailed study of the differences between this and the 1855 version, but this has added text and some of the odd edges (such as the extensive use of ellipses) are removed from the 1855 version. Many of the additions were very good. (5/12) Sea-Drift – There are some very well-known poems in this short set. Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking is an odd poem. Often cited as one of Whitman’s best, I didn’t care for it. Somehow death inspired his writing and there’s some maudlin story about the death of a bird. As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life is a much darker, more effective poem. The rest don’t rise to the stature of those, but are good nonetheless. (5/12) Drum Taps & Memories of President Lincoln – I read these sections some time ago, and perused them recently. These sections are uneven – as is much Whitman poetry – with great poems like By the Bivouac’s Fitful Flame and Cavalry Crosssing a Ford and When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed, and some less than great First O Songs for a Prelude and Song of the Banner at Daybreak. (Any Whitman poem with a child and father is usually pretty bad.) (5/12) The Library of America collection is, as typically the case, an outstanding collection. I wish, however, that they had just included the poetry and added more endnotes. (That is a consistent wish I have the Library of America sets. They seem very concerned about having too many endnotes. If they want to be the definitive hardcover edition in an age of ebooks, it would seem to me they would put a lot of endnotes – something that ebooks don’t do very well.) Whitman’s prose is okay, but a more compact book focused just on the poetry would have been nice to have.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Mcchesney

    Although, Whitman is not a classical children's poet - I use him a lot when I teach US History. I think that his verse, more than most others, gives a clear, beautiful, truthful insight into the ideals of America. In a poem such as, "I Hear America Singing" the reader envisions a country of people working for the greater good of mankind. These people come together as part of the whole society developing industry and production. More than reading a passage from the textbook, Whitman provides a fi Although, Whitman is not a classical children's poet - I use him a lot when I teach US History. I think that his verse, more than most others, gives a clear, beautiful, truthful insight into the ideals of America. In a poem such as, "I Hear America Singing" the reader envisions a country of people working for the greater good of mankind. These people come together as part of the whole society developing industry and production. More than reading a passage from the textbook, Whitman provides a first person account of the growth of America, in a lyrical and lovely manner. In simple, uncomplicated words, he records the voices of the people that create the chorus that is America's strength- the carpenter at work, the young mother - each one with their own song, adding their own, strong, voices to the whole that is America. The poem itself is based in simplicity. There are no complicating words or factors. It is short, simple, and strong, just as it describes the simple and strong voices of the workers and individuals that create the voice of America's 'song'. I love to use this poem as a choral reading or read aloud in class, it is so profound and powerful. Whitman is America. And his poetry easily connects to young adults and connects them to their heritage.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey (Akiva) Savett

    What do I dare say about Whitman? Like any good English major, I'd read many of these poems or parts of these poems before. But I decided to take this collection on a few months ago because I hadn't revisited Uncle Walt in at least a decade. To be honest, it might have been seeing Leaves of Grass in Breaking Bad that reminded me how much that book, as it does in the show, heads to TRUTH. I don't say that lightly. I don't even believe in TRUTH. I believe in truths. Maybe Truths. But if any artist What do I dare say about Whitman? Like any good English major, I'd read many of these poems or parts of these poems before. But I decided to take this collection on a few months ago because I hadn't revisited Uncle Walt in at least a decade. To be honest, it might have been seeing Leaves of Grass in Breaking Bad that reminded me how much that book, as it does in the show, heads to TRUTH. I don't say that lightly. I don't even believe in TRUTH. I believe in truths. Maybe Truths. But if any artist can lay claim to have spoken the TRUTH, it's Whitman. Maybe Beethoven in music. I can't imagine American poetry without Whitman. In fact, I can't actually imagine America. I know that seems hyperbolic and I know that seems to be so naively poetic as to be misguided. But I don't think it's wrong to say that Whitman gave us the right to speak our own language. To see art and beauty in that language, and to see that to contain the unity of the cosmos, one must embrace the cosmos all at once. I didn't necessarily NEED both versions of Leaves of Grass that are contained in this volume, but I wanted a hardcover Whitman which would last me forever. This is the one I chose.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Debrah A

    Ironically, although I had known of Whitman for a long time, my first real taste of him came through HBO's Season II, Episode 3, when his poem was read at a funeral (portions in square brackets below were not used in the show): I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun, [ I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags. ] I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love, If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles. You will hardly know who I am or Ironically, although I had known of Whitman for a long time, my first real taste of him came through HBO's Season II, Episode 3, when his poem was read at a funeral (portions in square brackets below were not used in the show): I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun, [ I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags. ] I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love, If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles. You will hardly know who I am or what I mean, But I shall be good health to you nevertheless, [ And filter and fibre your blood. Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged, ] Missing me one place search another, I stop somewhere waiting for you. Anyway, this sparked a newfound interest in Whitman at which point I just happened to find this book in our library. What a stroke of luck. This is the essential Whitman. And I must have read it a few times now. I love his poetry and you will too.

  13. 5 out of 5

    David

    There's a Whitman program on KCTS right now, and I'm reminded of how much I love this book. My girlfriend gave me this book back in high school, then part of the new Library of America series. At that time it was an attempt to express the spiralling ecstasies and wonders of a very romantic first love. Over the years, this same volume has resurfaced every so often, each time showing a different aspect, a new refraction. There are favorite, cherished books that feel like friends and family; for me There's a Whitman program on KCTS right now, and I'm reminded of how much I love this book. My girlfriend gave me this book back in high school, then part of the new Library of America series. At that time it was an attempt to express the spiralling ecstasies and wonders of a very romantic first love. Over the years, this same volume has resurfaced every so often, each time showing a different aspect, a new refraction. There are favorite, cherished books that feel like friends and family; for me Whitman's words will always feel like a lost lover, or mother, or myself. I don't just love it: I adore it. Fond words, but there you are. Great stuff: everyone should do Whitman, and do it young, too.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jorge Donestevez

    Upon first reading Walt Whitman, I detested his style. No rhyming? Are you kidding me? Well, a few months later I heard a very moving recital of his poem "Song of Myself". I re-read the poem with an invigorated energy and was rewarded immensely. Whitman is a genius, one of the best poets, if not the best America has produced. His poems are hymns to America, to the self, to humanity, to democracy; his poetry is web of energetic, profound, free-flowing verses that will captivate you. If you don't Upon first reading Walt Whitman, I detested his style. No rhyming? Are you kidding me? Well, a few months later I heard a very moving recital of his poem "Song of Myself". I re-read the poem with an invigorated energy and was rewarded immensely. Whitman is a genius, one of the best poets, if not the best America has produced. His poems are hymns to America, to the self, to humanity, to democracy; his poetry is web of energetic, profound, free-flowing verses that will captivate you. If you don't like Whitman, give him a second shot, but make sure you're in the right mood. On a separate note, this edition is beautiful and durable, plus it also contains some of his prose, which unfortunately I haven't had the time to read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    J.

    All that I can say as-to my own feelings regarding his work: I deeply believe that most modern poetry, in fact, as suggested by many scholars, is (at-least-in-part) in the 'Whitman voice,' with a few notable exceptions(Plath being one). I think Leaves of grass was a breakthrough in poetry. I believe that it was such a breakthrough that in terms of structure and formula that it's hard to get away from. I come back to this book for study, and quite a bit. It's on my 'forever reading' list, and for g All that I can say as-to my own feelings regarding his work: I deeply believe that most modern poetry, in fact, as suggested by many scholars, is (at-least-in-part) in the 'Whitman voice,' with a few notable exceptions(Plath being one). I think Leaves of grass was a breakthrough in poetry. I believe that it was such a breakthrough that in terms of structure and formula that it's hard to get away from. I come back to this book for study, and quite a bit. It's on my 'forever reading' list, and for good reason. That said, I'm not a fan of it. Notice that I rate if fairly highly, too. I deeply respect the work, even though I don't like it. I hope there is another Walt Whitman to come along, and relatively soon. I doubt it will happen, though.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Desiree

    There are absolutely not enough words with enough quantitative meaning between humans to express how much I ADORE WALT WHITMAN! I was so lucky to be able to take a graduate level English course dedicated exclusively to his poetry. To sing ourselves and celebrate ourselves, my ultimate goal in life would be to live as cosmosexually as he could write. Not a perfect man, nor a perfect poet, but an admirable artist whose poems are a comfort and a revelation every time I turn to him. If only the American There are absolutely not enough words with enough quantitative meaning between humans to express how much I ADORE WALT WHITMAN! I was so lucky to be able to take a graduate level English course dedicated exclusively to his poetry. To sing ourselves and celebrate ourselves, my ultimate goal in life would be to live as cosmosexually as he could write. Not a perfect man, nor a perfect poet, but an admirable artist whose poems are a comfort and a revelation every time I turn to him. If only the American Nation could be as great as Walt saw it to be...sigh...we could certainly use a little WW to refresh the national consciousness of a post-GW America

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    For some reason, I've never gotten around to reading Whitman. All I can say is, What a Discovery! I had the impression that Whitman was an egomaniac in extremis. On the surface, he comes close to that in "Song of Myself." But on many re-readings, I think the "energy" you see in that particular poem is more a sense of urgency in his poetic voice. I can't go into detail about the rest of his oeuvre, but I'll be returning time and again to many of his poems.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rosemari

    Whitman's poetry cannot be denied. Yet it's diminished by his acceptance of slavery and genocide of native Americans as necessary evils.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    I cherish this book. If I had to choose only one book to read for the rest of life, this might be the one I would choose.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    A great American voice, from the complexities of Song of Myself to the simplicity of The Last Invocation.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Wayne

    Yawp! The Old Bard is a touchstone and go-to, always timeless. But in times like these, his words are even more validating. My favorite ‘American’ voice...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Frederick

    One thing I don't hear often is that Walt Whitman's poetry is actually very difficult. The cult he built around himself (through self-penned, anonymous reviews of his own work and the marvelous photographs of himself looking rustic) predisposes many who encounter him to think of him as a purveyor of folk wisdom. But his work is complex. It is essentially experimental. Friend to the animals, dispenser of sage advice, nurse to the wounded. He was all of these things, but at the core he took a scie One thing I don't hear often is that Walt Whitman's poetry is actually very difficult. The cult he built around himself (through self-penned, anonymous reviews of his own work and the marvelous photographs of himself looking rustic) predisposes many who encounter him to think of him as a purveyor of folk wisdom. But his work is complex. It is essentially experimental. Friend to the animals, dispenser of sage advice, nurse to the wounded. He was all of these things, but at the core he took a scientific approach to his writing. His interest in the past, present and future is dispassionate.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nate

    despite the labelling this actually isn't a complete whitman, but i suppose its complete enough for anyone not writing a dissertation on him, which fortunately, is not me. included here is the 1855 and deathbed editions of leaves of grass, specimen days, collect, and various odds and ends. virtually all the works cover the same themes - by far the strongest stuff is the civil war material and abraham lincoln's assassination. the civil war came at a unique time in american history where weaponry g despite the labelling this actually isn't a complete whitman, but i suppose its complete enough for anyone not writing a dissertation on him, which fortunately, is not me. included here is the 1855 and deathbed editions of leaves of grass, specimen days, collect, and various odds and ends. virtually all the works cover the same themes - by far the strongest stuff is the civil war material and abraham lincoln's assassination. the civil war came at a unique time in american history where weaponry got exceptionally powerful and medicine was still stuck in the pre-modern era, so you had tons of mutilated soldiers dying of horrible infections and diseases in the hospital. whitman notes that the actual battlefield deaths were dwarfed by deaths following later the nature stuff is decent but gets repetitive. his musings on the spirit of the american people and the nature of demoncracy enshrined in the constitution, etc, is both inspiring, after witnessing the country nearly tear itself apart, and hopelessly naive, absolutely failing to predict the rise of exploitative capitalism that would emerge a few decades after his death, nevermind the lunacy of the trump administration and fox news' war on truth. in much of his writings about the people, whitman almost sounds like a marxist the early fiction here is terrible. he wrote a temperance novel which is omitted from here, i can't even imagine how much of a chore that must be to read. its interesting that whitman didnt appear to write fiction after the early 1850s - he probably knew it wasn't his strong point its also interesting to see the literature he name drops. his views on american literature are what you'd expect of the time - a feeling of insecurity in that the country had just been established and trying to find his own voice. he does like poe but i dont think mentions melville once. most of the great american literature is from the 20th century anyways. on the uk side he seems to really like carlyle, so i might have to revisit him at some point

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    STRIPT OF PADDING AND PAINT, WHO ARE BUCHANAN AND FILLMORE? WHAT HAS THIS AGE TO DO WITH THEM? Two galvanized old men, close on the summons to depart this life, their early contemporaries long since gone, only they two left, relics and proofs of the little political bargains, chances, combinations, resentments of a past age, having nothing in common with the age, standing for the first crop of political graves and grave-stones planted in These States, but in no sort standing for the lusty young g STRIPT OF PADDING AND PAINT, WHO ARE BUCHANAN AND FILLMORE? WHAT HAS THIS AGE TO DO WITH THEM? Two galvanized old men, close on the summons to depart this life, their early contemporaries long since gone, only they two left, relics and proofs of the little political bargains, chances, combinations, resentments of a past age, having nothing in common with the age, standing for the first crop of political graves and grave-stones planted in These States, but in no sort standing for the lusty young growth of the modern times of The States. It is clear from all these two men say and do, that their hearts have not been touched in the least by the flowing fire of the humanitarianism of the new world, its best glory yet, and a moral control stronger than all its governments. It is clear that neither of these nominees of the politicians has thus far reached an inkling of the real scope and character of the contest of the day, probably now only well begun, to stretch through years, with varied temporary successes and reverses. Still the two old men live in respectable little spots, with respectable little wants. Still their eyes stop at the edges of the tables of committees and cabinets, beholding not the great round world beyond. What has this age to do with them? You Americans who travel with such men, or who are nominated on tickets any where with them, or who support them at popular meetings, or write for them in the newspapers, or who believe that any good can come out of them, you also understand not the present age, the fibre of it, the countless currents it brings of American young men, a different superior race. All this effervescence is not for nothing; the friendlier, vaster, more vital modern spirit, hardly yet arrived at definite proportions, or to the knowledge of itself, will have the mastery. The like turmoil prevails in the expressions of literature, manners, trade, and other departments.

  25. 5 out of 5

    ZaRi

    "The poems distilled from other poems will probably pass away. The coward will surely pass away. The expectation of the vital and great can only be satisfied by the demeanor of the vital and great. The swarms of the polished deprecating and reflectors and the polite float off and leave no remembrance. America prepares with composure and goodwill for the visitors that have sent word. It is not intellect that is to be their warrant and welcome. The talented, the artist, the ingenious, the editor, "The poems distilled from other poems will probably pass away. The coward will surely pass away. The expectation of the vital and great can only be satisfied by the demeanor of the vital and great. The swarms of the polished deprecating and reflectors and the polite float off and leave no remembrance. America prepares with composure and goodwill for the visitors that have sent word. It is not intellect that is to be their warrant and welcome. The talented, the artist, the ingenious, the editor, the statesman, the erudite . . . they are not unappreciated . . . they fall in their place and do their work. The soul of the nation also does its work. No disguise can pass on it . . . no disguise can conceal from it. It rejects none, it permits all. Only toward as good as itself and toward the like of itself will it advance half-way. An individual is as superb as a nation when he has the qualities which make a superb nation. The soul of the largest and wealthiest and proudest nation may well go half-way to meet that of its poets. The signs are effectual. There is no fear of mistake. If the one is true the other is true. The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it."

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    I have attempted on several occasions to read Whitman, only to fail. This time, I succeeded. I suspect that has much to do with our current political situation (the Trump debacle) as anything else. Whitman's overwhelming positivity and cheerleading for the Democratic experiment was precisely what i needed at this time; a reminder that we once nearly destroyed the country in a war of secession, and were surrounded by pandering and incompetent politicians as well as great ones. I can't recommend i I have attempted on several occasions to read Whitman, only to fail. This time, I succeeded. I suspect that has much to do with our current political situation (the Trump debacle) as anything else. Whitman's overwhelming positivity and cheerleading for the Democratic experiment was precisely what i needed at this time; a reminder that we once nearly destroyed the country in a war of secession, and were surrounded by pandering and incompetent politicians as well as great ones. I can't recommend it highly enough. If you're looking for something bright and shining to remind you that progress isn't always easy, this book may well be it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gary McDowell

    I also have a 1931 edition of Leaves of Grass that's pretty bitchin'. That's where I read it for the first time. Still need to go through this collection and reread though. 8/18/08: Reading Specimen Days now. It's great. 02/28/10: And my 2-month immersion into Whitman, Dickinson, Emerson, Melville, etc begins tomorrow. Bon voyage!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alex Weir

    I own the LOA hardcover edition of this; I'm sure the paperback is identical, or close enough to it. Ideal for the reader who's new to the universe of perception and beauty that is Whitman. Look at all the 5-star ratings given here! That should tell you something. Lie down in "Leaves of Grass" -- you'll never be the same. A book for everyone alive, for all time.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Whitman is at his best when he makes his point, and SHUTS UP. But most of the time he doesn't. It's like he thinks, "That's well done! Let me say it again with different words." Pretty soon I am just reading and not absorbing anything he is saying. Sure, a few poems stick with you, but mostly he just makes white noise.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Aroog

    The second poet featured in my English course this semester. "Song of Myself," "I Sing the Body Electric," "Native Moments," and "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" will be close to my heart forever. I leave you with his most vows-worthy lines (of which there are many): "...I will be your poet, / I will be more to you than to any of the rest."

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