Leaves of Grass

Leaves of Grass

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Leaves of Grass is a collection of poetry written over Walt Whitman's entire lifetime organized thematically into sections. Whitman revised and added to the book throughout his life, the final edition being published only months before his death in 1891. Whitman was intentional in not organizing the book in any chronological way. Instead, he was concerned with the journey of the poetry. He desired that the reader would see a self formed through the words and themes of the book. The opening section, "Inscriptions," gives the reader an overview of the work and the purview of its author. Whitman names the subject of the work - "One's-self." This is not only Whitman's self, though he certainly identifies himself as the hero of the epic, but it is also the reader's self as well as a more encompassing democratic self. The subject, then, is Whitman, the reader, and the nation. The themes of "Inscriptions" are as varied as the themes of the entire book. He writes poems of a political, social, personal, and sexual nature, all ideas that he will elaborate on in later sections. "Starting from Paumanok" is a kind of road map for the literary work ahead. Whitman understands the entire book as a journey and so he begins with his own beginnings of self-awareness and poetic inspiration as a boy on Long Island, New York. Whitman intends here to name those that will accompany him on his journey and he catalogs a vast list of people and places that will play a part in his travels. His poems are of these people and for these people. Whitman, however, is not just concerned with the physical but with the spiritual as well. His own soul is named as a character in the book and his poems, he says, are written with the soul in mind. "Song of Myself" is a celebration of the individual. It is one of the book's original poems, appearing in the first 1855 edition although it did not take its final form until the 1881 edition. Whitman does not call on religious methods or traditional institutions to help create his self. Instead, Whitman becomes the quintessential modern man, created through nature and created through his own journey of self discovery. In "Song of Myself," Whitman is creating his own poetic world and he is creating himself as a character within that world. He encompasses both the basest desires of the human flesh and the loftiest visions of the human soul. As he describes it, he becomes "multitudes." "Calamus," one of the most controversial sections of the book because of its vivid autoerotic and homosexual themes, moves from a celebration of the self to a celebration of what Whitman terms "manly love." Whitman is chiefly concerned with the love that men feel for each other. He means not just brotherly love, or familial love, but sexual love as well. In "Calamus," Whitman seeks to become joined with another man in as intimate a way as possible. The relationships that men feel for each other, he believes, is incomplete until all facets of friendship are explored. It is only through these facets of love that a person can come to understand the true nature of another person and the meaning of another being. This is the basis for the democratic relationship and the purest expression of itshow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 444 pages
  • 155.96 x 233.93 x 25.4mm | 780.17g
  • Createspace
  • United States
  • English
  • Large type / large print
  • Large Print
  • black & white illustrations
  • 150756550X
  • 9781507565506

About Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman, born May 31, 1819 in Long Island, and died March 26, 1892 in Camden, is an American poet and humanist. His masterpiece is undoubtedly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass Biography Whitman was born May 31, 1819 on a farm near the present South Huntington, Long Island. He was the second of nine children. His family moved to Brooklyn in 1823, where he attended school only six years before joining as an apprentice in a print shop. Self-taught, he then read Homer, Dante and Shakespeare. After two years of apprenticeship, Whitman went to New York to work in different print shops. It is in 1835 that he returned to Long Island as a teacher. At the same time, he founded and edited the newspaper The Long Islander in his hometown of Huntington in 1838 and 1839. He continued to teach in Long Island until 1841, when he returned to New York to settle as a printer and journalist . He also wrote articles as a freelancer for popular magazines and wrote political speeches. In 1840, he participated in the campaign of presidential candidate Martin Van Buren. Political speeches written by Whitman then drew the attention of the society of Tammany Hall, which gave him the writing of many newspapers, including any was to enjoy a long publication. For two years he was editor of the influential Brooklyn Eagle (during the war of annexation of Mexican territory that was Texas, he wrote this: "Yes, Mexico must be severely punished Let our weapons are now spans. to teach the world that although we did not like quarrels, America knows how to hit and knows how to lie. "); However, following a split in the Democratic Party, he was removed from office for supporting the Free-Soil party (party opppose to the extension of slavery in the West). After the failure of his attempts to establish a Free Soil newspaper, he was tossed from one job to another. Between 1841 and 1859, Walt Whitman edited a newspaper (The Crescent) to New Orleans, Louisiana, two in New York and four on Long Island. In New Orleans, he discovered the slave market that was held regularly in the city at that time. It was there that he began to write poems and soon this activity supplanted all others."show more

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65,494 ratings
4.12 out of 5 stars
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3 17% (11,050)
2 5% (3,021)
1 2% (1,330)
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