Walt Whitman's Songs of Male Intimacy and Love

Walt Whitman's Songs of Male Intimacy and Love : Live Oak, with Moss and Calamus

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In his 1859 Live Oak, with Moss, Walt Whitman s unpublished sheaf of twelve poems on manly passion, the poet dreams of a city where men who love men can live and love openly. The revised Live Oak, with Moss poems became Calamus, Whitman s cluster of poems on adhesive and manly love, comradeship, and democracy, in "Leaves of Grass." Commemorating both the first publication of the Calamus poems and the little-known manuscript of notebook poems out of which the Calamus cluster grew, Whitman scholar Betsy Erkkila brings together in a single edition for the first time the Live Oak, with Moss poems, the 1860 Calamus poems, and the final 1881 Calamus poems. In addition to honoring the sesquicentennial of the Calamus cluster, she celebrates the ongoing legacy of Whitman s songs of manly passion, sex, and love.The volume begins with Whitman s elegantly handwritten manuscript of the Live Oak, with Moss poems, printed side by side with a typeset transcription and followed by a facsimile of the 1860 version of the Calamus poems. The concluding section reprints the final version of the Calamus poems from the 1881 edition of "Leaves of Grass." In an afterword, Erkkila discusses the radical nature of these poems in literary, sexual, and social history; the changes Whitman made in the Live Oak and Calamus poems in the post Civil War and Reconstruction years; the literary, political, and other contests surrounding the poems; and the constitutive role the poems have played in the emergence of modern heterosexual and homosexual identity in the United States and worldwide. The volume closes with a selected bibliography of works that have contributed to the critical and interpretive struggles around Whitman s man-loving life.One hundred and fifty years after Whitman s brave decision to speak publicly about a fully realized democracy, his country is still locked in a struggle over the rights of homosexuals. These public battles have been at the very center of controversies over the life, work, and legacy of Walt Whitman, America s (and the world s) major poet of democracy and its major singer of what he called manly love in all its moods. Together the poems in this omnibus volume affirm his creation of a radical new language designed to convey and affirm the poet s man love. "show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 182 pages
  • 127 x 213.36 x 15.24mm | 158.76g
  • University of Iowa Press
  • Iowa, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 1587299585
  • 9781587299582

Review quote

How marvelous to enjoy in this one publication the three major versions of Walt Whitman s exquisite poems of love and lust between men, and then Betsy Erkkila s new, provocative analysis of Whitman s revisions of these poems, their sexual and affectional content, and their present import. Jonathan Ned Katz, author, "Love Stories: Sex between Men before Homosexuality ""show more

About Walter Whitman

Betsy Erkkila is the Henry Sanborn Noyes Professor of Literature at Northwestern University. She is the author of "Mixed Bloods and Other American Crosses: Rethinking American Literature from the Revolution to the Culture Wars," " The Wicked Sisters: Women Poets, Literary History, and Discord," " Whitman the Political Poet," and "Walt Whitman among the French: Poet and Myth."show more

Rating details

16 ratings
3.81 out of 5 stars
5 25% (4)
4 44% (7)
3 25% (4)
2 0% (0)
1 6% (1)
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