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Leaves of Grass - Death Bed Edition (Illustrated and Annotated) (Literary Classics Collection)

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When Leaves of Grass was first published in 1855 as a slim tract of twelve untitled poems, Walt Whitman was still an unknown. But his self-published volume soon became a landmark of poetry, introducing the world to a new and uniquely American form. The "father of free verse," Whitman drew upon the cadence of simple, even idiomatic speech to "sing" such themes as democracy, When Leaves of Grass was first published in 1855 as a slim tract of twelve untitled poems, Walt Whitman was still an unknown. But his self-published volume soon became a landmark of poetry, introducing the world to a new and uniquely American form. The "father of free verse," Whitman drew upon the cadence of simple, even idiomatic speech to "sing" such themes as democracy, sexuality, and frank autobiography. Throughout his prolific writing career, Whitman continually revised his work and expanded Leaves of Grass, which went through nine, substantively different editions, culminating in the final, authoritative "Death-bed Edition." Now the original 1855 version and the "Death-bed Edition" of 1892 have been brought together in a single volume, allowing the reader to experience the total scope of Whitman's genius, which produced love lyrics, visionary musings, glimpses of nightmare and ecstasy, celebrations of the human body and spirit, and poems of loneliness, loss, and mourning. Alive with the mythical strength and vitality that epitomized the American experience in the nineteenth century, Leaves of Grass continues to inspire, uplift, and unite those who read it. Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman, is part of the Literary Classics Collection, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of the Literary Classics Collection: - New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars - Biographies of the authors - Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events - Footnotes and endnotes - Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work - Comments by other famous authors - Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations - Bibliographies for further reading - Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. The Literary Classics Collection pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.


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When Leaves of Grass was first published in 1855 as a slim tract of twelve untitled poems, Walt Whitman was still an unknown. But his self-published volume soon became a landmark of poetry, introducing the world to a new and uniquely American form. The "father of free verse," Whitman drew upon the cadence of simple, even idiomatic speech to "sing" such themes as democracy, When Leaves of Grass was first published in 1855 as a slim tract of twelve untitled poems, Walt Whitman was still an unknown. But his self-published volume soon became a landmark of poetry, introducing the world to a new and uniquely American form. The "father of free verse," Whitman drew upon the cadence of simple, even idiomatic speech to "sing" such themes as democracy, sexuality, and frank autobiography. Throughout his prolific writing career, Whitman continually revised his work and expanded Leaves of Grass, which went through nine, substantively different editions, culminating in the final, authoritative "Death-bed Edition." Now the original 1855 version and the "Death-bed Edition" of 1892 have been brought together in a single volume, allowing the reader to experience the total scope of Whitman's genius, which produced love lyrics, visionary musings, glimpses of nightmare and ecstasy, celebrations of the human body and spirit, and poems of loneliness, loss, and mourning. Alive with the mythical strength and vitality that epitomized the American experience in the nineteenth century, Leaves of Grass continues to inspire, uplift, and unite those who read it. Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman, is part of the Literary Classics Collection, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of the Literary Classics Collection: - New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars - Biographies of the authors - Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events - Footnotes and endnotes - Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work - Comments by other famous authors - Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations - Bibliographies for further reading - Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. The Literary Classics Collection pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

30 review for Leaves of Grass - Death Bed Edition (Illustrated and Annotated) (Literary Classics Collection)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Selby

    Whitman used to right fake reviews under false names for Leaves of Grass and send them to publishers, newspapers, and periodicals. I love that about him. So over the top. He had love for everything. Especially himself. As for the quality of the work the words speak for themselves: "This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not co Whitman used to right fake reviews under false names for Leaves of Grass and send them to publishers, newspapers, and periodicals. I love that about him. So over the top. He had love for everything. Especially himself. As for the quality of the work the words speak for themselves: "This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning god, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body..........."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lizzy

    In Leaves of Grass Walt Whitman sings nature and his symbiosis with America, he sings the universe and his awareness of it all, but above all he sings the people and their quest for individuality and immortality. ‘The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it.’ And here he includes himself with all his mysticism and spiritual illuminations. In that, it is a celebration of humanity, his country and everything in it. Some parts of his poems were so bea In Leaves of Grass Walt Whitman sings nature and his symbiosis with America, he sings the universe and his awareness of it all, but above all he sings the people and their quest for individuality and immortality. ‘The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it.’ And here he includes himself with all his mysticism and spiritual illuminations. In that, it is a celebration of humanity, his country and everything in it. Some parts of his poems were so beautiful it spoke to me, however not all touched me. For one I am not American, and for other, he wrote it in another time that is long gone. But there are times when he comes through more our contemporary than many other writers I read. I loved him for his love of the common people, for his praise of the most unlucky human beings – like slaves and prostitutes – as for his sense of justice. ‘The attitude of the great poets is to cheer up slaves and horrify despots.’ It’s an ode to equality, and for that, we cannot praise him enough. His words sometimes sounded like music in my ears. It really sang to me. ‘You shall stand by my side and look in the mirror with me.’ Sometimes playful, often insightful and timeless, Leaves of Grass is not to be missed. ‘It is the medium that shall well express the inexpressible.’ Let’s let Whitman speak for himself: Song of Myself I CELEBRATE myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease . . . . observing a spear of summer grass. <<>> Clear and sweet is my soul . . . . and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul. <<>> I resist anything better than my own diversity, And breathe the air and leave plenty after me, And am not stuck up, and am in my place. <<>> I am the poet of the body, And I am the poet of the soul. The pleasures of heaven are with me, and the pains of hell are with me, The first I graft and increase upon myself . . . . the latter I translate into a new tongue. I am the poet of the woman the same as the man, And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man, And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men. <<>> I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journeywork of the stars, And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren, And the tree-toad is a chef-d'ouvre for the highest, And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven, And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery, And the cow crunching with depressed head surpasses any statue, And a mouse is a miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels, And I could come every afternoon of my life to look at the farmer’s girls boiling her iron tea-kettle and baking short-cake. <<>> The disdain and calmness of martyrs, The mother condemned for a witch and burnt with dry wood, and her children gazing on; The hounded slave that flags in the race and leans by the fence, blowing and covered with sweat, The twinges that sting like needles his legs and neck, The murderous buckshot and the bullets, All these I feel or am. Finally, the three last superb stanzas: I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love. If you want me again look for me under your bootsoles. 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. A Song for Occupations Come closer to me, Push close my lovers and take the best I possess, Yield closer and closer and give me the best you possess. <<>> The wife – and she is not one jot less than the husband, The daughter – and she is just good as the son, The mother – and she is every bit as much as the father. <<>> We thought our Union grand and our Constitution grand; I do not say they are not grand and good – for they are, I am this day just as much in love with them as you, But I am eternally in love with you and with all my fellows upon the earth. <<>> 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 me at first keep encouraged, Missing me one place search another, I stop some where waiting for you. The Sleepers Be careful, darkness . . . . already, what was it touched me? I thought my lover was gone . . . . else darkness and he are one, I hear the heart-beat . . . . I follow . . I fade away. ___

  3. 5 out of 5

    MischaS_

    Don't pay attention to me, I'm currently high on poetry.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Whitman sings the song of America like no other poet I know--the outsized joy and pain, the affinity for common folk and the love of nature and the sheer overwhelming feeling of every sight and sound and industrious noise around him. "I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear," he wrote. Because of this some are tempted to see Whitman as a poet of pure exuberance--like a proto-hippie or, worse, like a garrulous Hallmark card. But Whitman doesn't shy away from pain at all--he embraces it l Whitman sings the song of America like no other poet I know--the outsized joy and pain, the affinity for common folk and the love of nature and the sheer overwhelming feeling of every sight and sound and industrious noise around him. "I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear," he wrote. Because of this some are tempted to see Whitman as a poet of pure exuberance--like a proto-hippie or, worse, like a garrulous Hallmark card. But Whitman doesn't shy away from pain at all--he embraces it like he embraces everything else--not in a way that cheapens or ignores it but in a way that feels it deeply too. He did, after all, endure the civil war (he served as a nurse in army hospitals--we might shudder to think what those were like) and wrote about the experience in his typically direct, personal way. Speaking of the personal, for many years I always brought an old tattered copy of Whitman with me backpacking, and whenever I had to endure a particularly awful commute, I'd listen to Whitman to calm down, to step outside myself and encounter something beautiful amid the soul-crushing traffic. Whitman has become like an old friend to me now, one I'll no doubt keep coming back to, no matter my station in life or what I'm going through.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Schumacher

    When Leaves of Grass was first published, critics applauded Whitman "only that he did not burn" the "mass of stupid filth" immediately upon completion. They primarily objected to its sensual and occasionally (rather overtly) homoerotic content. Nowadays, of course, it seems entirely too mild to raise an objection on those grounds, but man, oh man, I understand the impulse to want to turn this book into kindling. It's less like THIS... ...and more like THIS. This weighty poetic tome has all the we When Leaves of Grass was first published, critics applauded Whitman "only that he did not burn" the "mass of stupid filth" immediately upon completion. They primarily objected to its sensual and occasionally (rather overtly) homoerotic content. Nowadays, of course, it seems entirely too mild to raise an objection on those grounds, but man, oh man, I understand the impulse to want to turn this book into kindling. It's less like THIS... ...and more like THIS. This weighty poetic tome has all the weaknesses inherent to self-publication: unjustified overlong length, tedious repetition of images and ideas, wildly uneven quality from one poem to the next, irritating authorial tics, and a pervasive self-important focus. "As I look at stuff, I think about stuff. O stuff! O synonym for stuff! O six-page list of things that are similar yet different!" It's really impossible to document the amazing repetitions in Leaves of Grass short of simply handing you the book itself. It is repetitive in syntax, in word choice, in tone, in content, in message, in perspective. And the collection is inexcusably padded past any hope of delivering the forceful emotional impact that poems are so uniquely capable of. And man, what gives with the crappy words!? English's strongest selling point as a language is its vast, incredibly nuanced vocabulary. It's not a particularly beautiful or intuitive dictionary, but the thesaurus is stellar--we have an endless supply of synonyms at our disposal. There's really no excuse for a native English-speaking poet to resort to such dull, texture-less language. Take this brief ditty, After the Sea-Ship: After the sea-ship, after the whistling winds, After the white-gray sails taut to their spars and ropes, Below, a myriad myriad waves hastening, lifting up their necks, Tending in ceaseless flow toward the track of the ship, Waves of the ocean bubbling and gurgling, blithely prying, Waves, undulating waves, liquid, uneven, emulous waves, Toward that whirling current, laughing and buoyant, with curves, Where the great vessel sailing and tacking displaced the surface, Larger and smaller waves in the spread of the ocean yearnfully flowing, The wake of the sea-ship after she passes, flashing and frolicsome under the sun, A motley procession with many a fleck of foam and many fragments, Following the stately and rapid ship, in the wake following. Guys, did you know that winds whistle? Or that ship sails are white-gray? Or that the ocean has both "larger and smaller waves?" Are you kidding me? (And yes, that's the whole poem, by the way, I didn't pull him off the stage with a cane right before he got to the good part.) Am I being too unfair? Let's compare with another short, nautically-themed poem from a contemporary from the same transcendental school. Here is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's sonnet The Sound of the Sea. The sea awoke at midnight from its sleep, And round the pebbly beaches far and wide I heard the first wave of the rising tide Rush onward with uninterrupted sweep; A voice out of the silence of the deep, A sound mysteriously multiplied As of a cataract from the mountain's side, Or roar of winds upon a wooded steep. So comes to us at times, from the unknown And inaccessible solitudes of being, The rushing of the sea-tides of the soul; And inspirations, that we deem our own, Are some divine foreshadowing and foreseeing Of things beyond our reason or control. Even given the additional constraints of rhyming meter, Wadsworth (whom I'm honestly not that excited about in general) manages to deliver a concise, impactful message with an interesting scope and vocabulary. Also, The Sound of the Sea was not padded with flabby rephrasings of the same idea in an overlong collection. The point is, Whitman was mediocre, at best, even in his own time. Less THIS... THIS. I know I'm being a bit vicious, but from six hundred pages of poetry, I gathered fewer insights than from a collection of half-a-dozen from a better poet. I have already started reading a new poetry collection, and I'm compelled to read and reread, discovering new depths, awestruck at the emotional viscera. Reading Leaves of Grass was, in comparison, watching a slightly interesting shade of paint dry. The wide-eyed transcendental awe that Whitman is famous for grates under the relentless single-minded repetition. Whitman's spirit may have been remarkable, but his language is uninspired, hobbled by a limited vocabulary and overburdened by his didactic approach to inspiration. He tries too hard to educate and persuade, and sounds like a salesmen hustling flora and fauna door-to-door. The man's never met a thing he wasn't ready to romanticize: toiling farmers, shackled slaves, dying soldiers--they are noble savages, one and all. Less THIS... THIS. His relentless optimism at the splendor of America (politically, geographically, socially--every part of it is super-duper splendid, according to Walt) displays a total unwillingness to look critically at the world he lives in, which is a tremendous failure for a poet. Page after page documents the unending beauty of the territories he'd never visited, but there are only a handful of passing acknowledgements that Americans were actively slaughtering one another over the right to own other living humans. Whitman is not being naive here, but rather deliberately myopic. An extremely tedious "classic" that is really nothing more than rambling sermons from an inept poet. I can see someone being charmed by his incessant enthusiasm for life, but for a pragmatist like myself, I can't stomach the lack of emotional maturity. The world has all kinds of grace and majesty and stars and perfection, but it also has human beings killing other human beings for no clear reason. A robust poet can make sense of this dilemma--Whitman is no robust poet, so he merely turns away from it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Alright, my rating here is very misleading. I haven't read Leaves Of Grass. I don't even intend to read Leaves Of Grass. Not all the way through any way. It seems sort of weird to just read a big fat collection of poetry all the way through. The five star rating is for one poem, "Song of the Open Road". I've never really appreciated poetry. I've liked song lyrics and that's poetry, but it seemed like I needed a tune to go with it. I've liked scripture which can be pretty poetic, but it seemed I n Alright, my rating here is very misleading. I haven't read Leaves Of Grass. I don't even intend to read Leaves Of Grass. Not all the way through any way. It seems sort of weird to just read a big fat collection of poetry all the way through. The five star rating is for one poem, "Song of the Open Road". I've never really appreciated poetry. I've liked song lyrics and that's poetry, but it seemed like I needed a tune to go with it. I've liked scripture which can be pretty poetic, but it seemed I needed religious sentiment to go with it. Over the last few years , I've been trying to correct this character flaw, and I've felt like I was improving, but I didn't feel like I was there yet. So, I finished Atlas Shrugged recently and it left me feeling afraid of commitment, so I took Leaves Of Grass to work with me, so I'd have something to read on my lunch hour without feeling obligated to finish and that might help me grow in my appreciation of poetry. I looked in the table of contents and saw "Song of the Open Road" and thought that it might appeal to me as a runner/hiker guy and read it. Appeal to me, it did. I found myself reading it over and over again and having a very positive emotional reaction. It was visceral and inexplicable, so I won't try to detail it for you, but I thought as I was reading it, "This must be what appreciating poetry feels like." I wanted to memorize it and quote applicable sections at apropos moments to friends and family and all that other lame stuff that people who appreciate poetry do. So it gets five stars for providing me with something of a break through. I think I'll go read it again.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Helga

    I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of the Soul, The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me, The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into new tongue. I am the poet of the woman the same as the man, And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man, And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men. This is the first edition of Leaves of Grass published in 1855, which consists of 12 poems. In his poems Whitman exalts nature and h I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of the Soul, The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me, The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into new tongue. I am the poet of the woman the same as the man, And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man, And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men. This is the first edition of Leaves of Grass published in 1855, which consists of 12 poems. In his poems Whitman exalts nature and humans, regardless of sex, race, class and profession. For him a prostitute is worth as much as a nobleman. The body is as worthy as the soul. The woman is honored as the man… I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough, To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough, To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough, To pass among them or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck for a moment, what is this then? I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it as in a sea.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    It is becoming increasingly trendy to chalk up success to practice and hard work. We have the famous 10,000 hours from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, and a similar theme from Joshua Foer’s Moonwalking with Einstein, just to name two examples. But it seems to me that some people were just born to do what they did, that no amount of practice could ever have produced something so fresh, original, new, and revolutionary. Take Montaigne. He invented a new genre (the essay), pioneered a free and easy pro It is becoming increasingly trendy to chalk up success to practice and hard work. We have the famous 10,000 hours from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, and a similar theme from Joshua Foer’s Moonwalking with Einstein, just to name two examples. But it seems to me that some people were just born to do what they did, that no amount of practice could ever have produced something so fresh, original, new, and revolutionary. Take Montaigne. He invented a new genre (the essay), pioneered a free and easy prose style, and popularized a down-to-earth skeptical attitude. There was no precedent to his proclamation that he would write about only himself. To be sure, he worked very hard on his essays—going over them again and again, crossing out a line here, adding one there. But it wasn’t the practicing that made him special, it was that his essays were the expression of an entirely original type of person, who effortlessly broke every rule. Walt Whitman is a similar case. Though free verse had precedents in the Biblical psalms, no poet had emancipated himself so completely from prosody, rhythm, and rhyme. Though deism was trendy with the Transcendentalists, Emerson’s and Thoreau’s perspectives were a far cry from Whitman’s mysticism. Not to mention that his celebration of the bodily pleasures and sexuality scandalized nearly everybody. Could 10,000 hours of anything have produced that? How do you practice to be original? This is all besides the point, I suppose. This poem is gorgeous. It’s so modern in its sensibilities, I almost want to say that it could have been written in the 50s or 60s; but Whitman’s reverence for nature, love, and life was so pure and raw, that no disillusioned Cold War drug fueled Beats or Hippies could have come close. There is nothing trendy in his poetry—he was a member of no movement. He was not writing in verse to 'rebel’ against anything, but to celebrate everything he saw worth celebrating. At his worst, Whitman is repetitive: continually rehashing ideas and imagery, and producing some uninspiring lists. But at his best, Whitman is revelatory. When the force of his original perspective is married to the force of his original style, the product is as extraordinary as it is inimitable. The words and ideas are woven around each other like a vine growing around a tree, producing a poem that lives and breathes—so freshly harvested from his mind, that even now it seems to still have dirt and roots clinging to it. I’m happy to see that America has produced a poet capable of upholding the democratic principle without descending into ‘just one of us plain folksiness’. And I’m glad to see that America has produced an individualist that is not peevish and immature. I’m saying “America produced," but I’m not really sure what mysterious force results in people like Whitman and Montaigne. But it sure as hell ain’t 10,000 hours.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ben Wilson

    Leaves of Grass is like reading every single instant message that I and a friend of mine ever wrote to one another over the course of the last ten years. Likely way too long, too self-serving and would have shocked the general public if they cared to read it when it was written. But nestled in there are some real, true brilliant moments. This is after all Whitman's life work, laid bare and un-edited for the most part. What else are we to expect? He is literally singing a song of himself, which he Leaves of Grass is like reading every single instant message that I and a friend of mine ever wrote to one another over the course of the last ten years. Likely way too long, too self-serving and would have shocked the general public if they cared to read it when it was written. But nestled in there are some real, true brilliant moments. This is after all Whitman's life work, laid bare and un-edited for the most part. What else are we to expect? He is literally singing a song of himself, which he believes to be American - and is American by all accounts. He shouts it loud and strong and keeps repeating it until the reader gets it. But in there in that persistance is a thing of real, American beauty - a self-made man in love with his country and the people in it. Real unhumble patriotism. To understand this in all it's ragged glory is to understand Whitman and his America.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Collin

    Holy shit this is self-important and tedious. --update: This has sat untouched on my desk all year. I can think of a hundred books I'd rather start than finish this, so I doubt I'll pick it back up unless I run out of books to read, I'm too poor to buy any more books, all my friends turn on me and refuse to loan me anything else, and all the nearby libraries are set on fire simultaneously.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Samadrita

    There's only so much rhetoric on American imperialism I can ingest and assimilate at a stretch. Later, Mr Whitman. (paused at 47%)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"

    Did you know that the letters in "Leaves of Grass" can be rearranged to spell "Asses of Gravel"? If you find yourself anagramming the letters in the title rather than reading the poetry, it's a good sign you're not into the book. But I really wanted some of whatever Whitman was smoking that made him so ecstatically, ebulliently enthusiastic about every molecule on the planet. Including his own b.o. "The scent of these arm-pits aroma finer than prayer." Huh??? Was this guy sniffing glue along wit Did you know that the letters in "Leaves of Grass" can be rearranged to spell "Asses of Gravel"? If you find yourself anagramming the letters in the title rather than reading the poetry, it's a good sign you're not into the book. But I really wanted some of whatever Whitman was smoking that made him so ecstatically, ebulliently enthusiastic about every molecule on the planet. Including his own b.o. "The scent of these arm-pits aroma finer than prayer." Huh??? Was this guy sniffing glue along with those arm-pits? I made it through about 85 pages, then let it go. Maybe I'll come back to it in the future. There ARE some beautiful passages hiding in among all those exclamation marks.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Araz Goran

    شريد الطرقات وغريب الأطوار ،ملحن الكلمات ،الماشي بين السفوح والوديان ، المقاتل ، المتطرف الغائب ،الحاضر ، قديس الروح وعربيد الجسد، المتفائل، الرفيق والسائح، الفلاح، المغامر، المنطلق نحو حياة لا حدود لها وأفق فسيح يتمدد أمامه كرحلة أبدية تنتهي من حيث تبدأ وتبدأ من حيث ينتهي، في أعماق الطبيعة وجنون الحياة وبين أجساد الفقراء والبائسين والقتال والمقاتلين ،البحر والصيادين .. هناك حيث يسكن والت ويتمان... * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * أنا شاعر الجسد، وأنا شاعر الروح هناءات الجنة معي، وعذابات ال شريد الطرقات وغريب الأطوار ،ملحن الكلمات ،الماشي بين السفوح والوديان ، المقاتل ، المتطرف الغائب ،الحاضر ، قديس الروح وعربيد الجسد، المتفائل، الرفيق والسائح، الفلاح، المغامر، المنطلق نحو حياة لا حدود لها وأفق فسيح يتمدد أمامه كرحلة أبدية تنتهي من حيث تبدأ وتبدأ من حيث ينتهي، في أعماق الطبيعة وجنون الحياة وبين أجساد الفقراء والبائسين والقتال والمقاتلين ،البحر والصيادين .. هناك حيث يسكن والت ويتمان... * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * أنا شاعر الجسد، وأنا شاعر الروح هناءات الجنة معي، وعذابات الجحيم معي أغدق الأولى على نفسي وأترجم الثانية لغة جديدة أنا شاعر المرأة، كما أنا شاعر الرجل... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ أيها الغريب حين تمر بي وتريد أن تحدثي لم لا تحدثني؟ ولم لا احدثك؟ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ أرى ما فعلته المعارك والأوبئة والطغيان.. أرى السجناء والشهداء أرى المجاعة في البحر وأرى البحارة يقترعون على من سيقتلون حتى يظل أحياءً ، الباقون أرى الإهانات والشتائم التي يكيلها المتغطرسون للعمال والفقراء والزنوج وأمثالهم... كل هذا... كل هذا اللؤم والعذاب الذين لا ينتهيان أجلس وأحدق فيهما أرى وأسمع صامتاً !! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ هل ظن إمرؤ أنه سعيد الحظ بإن ولد؟ أسارع فأقول له أو لها أنه سعيد الحظ كذلك بأن يموت وأنا العارف السبب إنني أدع الموت للموتى ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ في الليل أفتح كوّتي وأنظر إلى المنظومات الكونية المنتشرة بعيداً فإذا كل ما أراه -ولو ضاعفته قدر ما أستطيع- لن يبلغ إلا حافة المنظومات الأبعد إنها تتسع وتزيد إتساعاً..... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ النصر ، الأتحاد، الأيمان ، الذات ، الزمن العقد المستعصية، الثروات، الأسرار التقدم الأبدي الأكوان، أبناء الحاضر ها هي ذي الحياة إذاً ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ إني أرى شيئاً من الله، كل ساعة من الساعات الأربع والعشرون وكل لحضة في وجوه الرجال والنساء، أرى الله وفي وجهي أمام المرأة فإنني أرى رسائل من الله ملقاة في الشوارع وكل رسالة موقع من الله وأنا أترك الرسائل مكانها فأنا أعلم أنني حيثما حللت فإن رسائل أخرى ستظل تجيء، إلى الأبد.....

  14. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    "Adeus, minha Fantasia! Adeus, querida companheira, minha amada! Vou, mas não sei para onde vou, Nem qual será a minha sorte, nem se alguma vez nos voltaremos a ver, Por isso, adeus, minha Fantasia! Agora, a minha última vontade — deixa-me olhar para trás por um instante; Cada vez mais lento e leve o tiquetaque do relógio dentro de mim, Retirada, anoitecer, e em breve a surda palpitação que pára. Convivemos, alegrámo-nos e consolámo-nos durante muito tempo; Foi magnífico! — Agora separamo-nos — Adeus, mi "Adeus, minha Fantasia! Adeus, querida companheira, minha amada! Vou, mas não sei para onde vou, Nem qual será a minha sorte, nem se alguma vez nos voltaremos a ver, Por isso, adeus, minha Fantasia! Agora, a minha última vontade — deixa-me olhar para trás por um instante; Cada vez mais lento e leve o tiquetaque do relógio dentro de mim, Retirada, anoitecer, e em breve a surda palpitação que pára. Convivemos, alegrámo-nos e consolámo-nos durante muito tempo; Foi magnífico! — Agora separamo-nos — Adeus, minha Fantasia! Mas não me devo apressar, É verdade que muito convivemos, dormimos, purificámo-nos, fundimo-nos num verdadeiramente; Então, se temos de morrer, morramos juntos (sim, continuaremos a ser um), Se a algum lado temos de ir que o façamos juntos para enfrentar o que acontecer, Talvez sejamos mais afortunados e felizes, e aprendamos alguma coisa, Talvez sejas tu quem me mostra agora o caminho para os verdadeiros cantos (quem sabe?), Talvez sejas tu quem me faz girar a maçaneta da porta mortal — por isso, finalmente, Adeus, e boa viagem, minha Fantasia!"

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ahmed Oraby

    ويتمان شاعر داعر، عبقري، لطيف، حييّ، محب للكون والطبيعة والوجود عاشق للمتع والحياة واللذائد شعره داعر، ومفضوح. وإباحي أحيانا كلماته صريحة جريئة، ونداءاته تنبض بالحياة ديوان جميل وعبقري، وترجمة سعدي يوسف أحيته

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nahed.E

    القراءة الأولي لـ والت وايتمان الشاعر الأمريكي الشهير الهادئ .. الراقي .. البسيط إلي حد التعقيد !! هل تعرف ذلك الإحساس حين تصبح سعادتك الكبري في الاستلقاء علي العشب الأخضر والعالم يمر من فوقك لا تعبأ به ولا يعبأ بك ؟ هل تعرف ذلك الإحساس حين تكون سعادتك في أن تتحدث مع ذاتك عن ذاتك .. وعن الآخرين بمنتهي الصدق .. فلا تعبأ بصورتك في المرآة كيف كانت ؟ ولا كيف نظروا إليك ؟ ولا كيف سيحكمون عليك في يوم ما ؟ هل تعرف ذلك الإحساس حين تتحدث إليهم بكل صدق وتقول : هذا أنا ! فلا تتعبوا أنفسكم في تغييري .. أنا أحب نف القراءة الأولي لـ والت وايتمان الشاعر الأمريكي الشهير الهادئ .. الراقي .. البسيط إلي حد التعقيد !! هل تعرف ذلك الإحساس حين تصبح سعادتك الكبري في الاستلقاء علي العشب الأخضر والعالم يمر من فوقك لا تعبأ به ولا يعبأ بك ؟ هل تعرف ذلك الإحساس حين تكون سعادتك في أن تتحدث مع ذاتك عن ذاتك .. وعن الآخرين بمنتهي الصدق .. فلا تعبأ بصورتك في المرآة كيف كانت ؟ ولا كيف نظروا إليك ؟ ولا كيف سيحكمون عليك في يوم ما ؟ هل تعرف ذلك الإحساس حين تتحدث إليهم بكل صدق وتقول : هذا أنا ! فلا تتعبوا أنفسكم في تغييري .. أنا أحب نفسي وأحبكم .. ولن أقلل من شأني .. ولن أقلل من شأنكم .. ! هل تعرف ذلك الإحساس حين تخرج من بيتك صباحاً وتنظر إلي السماء وتبتسم لـ لله عز وجل وتتوقع مع كل خطوة مفاجأة قدرية أو هدية إلهية ستحبها مهما كانت ؟؟ هذا هو وايتمان في أغلب قصائد هذا الكتاب ~~

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chris_P

    I read it in my living room. Read it by the sea. Read it in the afternoon, at sunset and at night. I read it from mid-winter through mid-spring. Read it while sad, read it while content, read it while not giving a fuck. I read it and understood it, read it and misinterpreted it. I read it. Do I seem weird? Do I care?

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ben Winch

    A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child?.... I do not know what it is any more than he. I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven. Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord, A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped, Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose? I'm no expert on Walt Whitman, and given that this poem ('Song of Myself') has been celeb A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child?.... I do not know what it is any more than he. I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven. Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord, A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped, Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose? I'm no expert on Walt Whitman, and given that this poem ('Song of Myself') has been celebrated by everyone from Neruda to Borges to Pessoa to Robin Williams in Dead Poet's Society ('I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world'), I doubt I'm educating anyone by bringing it again to their attention. That said, this was just what I needed this morning as I warmed into my first day alone in the country after too many weeks of a lack of privacy so intense that I have read and written almost nothing. Nervous, wondering if I might piss away the week allotted to me if I couldn't become inspired, I flicked idly through these pages over coffee, remembering, as I often have in the maybe ten years since I first read them, how they once impressed me, and soon found myself enthralled, a tear in my eye, as I read of the child and his unanswerable question. Now, by any popular notion of the word I am not religious, and I have a handful of staunchly anti-religious friends who'll attest to it, though I'll own that these friends strike me as both too literal-minded and too combative (they 'protesteth too much'), and that these days I either ignore or attempt to dissuade them every time they head off on a rant, so narrow and senseless and insensitive do such rants seem to me. The point is: God? 'The Lord'? Hell, to be honest I could give a shit, at least as regards any organised religion's conception of the subject. But something in that line about the handkerchief ('that we may see and remark, and say Whose?') moves me, the same way Bob Dylan (the born again Dylan!) moves me when he sings 'In the fury of the moment / I can see the master's hand / In every leaf that trembles / In every grain of sand.' And I call to mankind, Be not curious about God, For I who am curious about each am not curious about God, No array of terms can say how much I am at peace about God and about death. I hear and behold God in every object, yet I understand God not in the least, Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself. Why should I wish to see God better than this day? I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then, In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass; I find letters from God dropped in the street, and every one is signed by God's name, And I leave them where they are, for I know that others will punctually come forever and ever. Forever and ever. The constant mystery we know is beyond our powers to explain; even the smallest child who looks at the stars knows that. The constant, ever-renewing mystery which we can tap into now and then, loafing and 'observing a spear of summer grass', but which ultimately we must, again and again, leave behind, knowing it will never go away, but equally that we cannot gaze at it for long. I celebrate myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.... These are the thoughts of all men in all ages in all lands, they are not original with me, If they are not yours as much as mine they are nothing or next to nothing, If they do not enclose everything they are next to nothing, If they are not the riddle and the untying of the riddle they are nothing, If they are not just as close as they are distant they are nothing.... It is you talking just as much as myself.... I act as the tongue of you, It was tied in your mouth.... in mine it begins to be loosened. Big words, huh? As bold as can be. As earnest and without irony (Pessoa did it with irony) yet hardly at all portentous or laughable. Strange, that Whitman should say here 'Logic and sermons never convince', when it seems that this whole epic rant (all 60 pages) is the sermon to end all sermons. But he admits to contradicting himself, explaining 'I am large.... I contain multitudes.' And at one point he falters in his ecstasy: Somehow I have been stunned. Stand back! Give me a little time beyond my cuffed head and slumbers and dreams and gaping, I discover myself on a verge of the usual mistake. That I could forget the mockers and insults! That I could forget the trickling tears and the blows of the bludgeons and the hammers! That I could look with a separate look on my own crucifixion and bloody crowning! For all its joy and exulting in the simple fact of life, 'Song of Myself' is ever aware of suffering: 'the suicide on the bloody floor of the bedroom', the runaway slave ('He staid with me a week before he was recuperated and passed north'), 'the mother condemned for a witch and burnt with dry wood, and her children gazing on'. I do not ask the wounded person how he feels.... I myself become the wounded person'.... I play not a march for victors only.... I play great marches for conquered and slain persons.... This is the meal pleasantly set.... this is the meat and drink for natural hunger, It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous.... I make appointments with all.... I am the poet of commonsense and of the demonstrable and of immortality; And am not the poet of goodness only.... I do not decline to be the poet of wickedness also.... I don't claim that Whitman's work is perfect, and in fact I skipped or skimmed several passages this morning (I've never been one for lists, and Whitman, in his passion to encompass multitudes – of people and places – is occasionally enamoured of them), but I do think 'Song of Myself' is some kind of a masterpiece. The introduction to this edition (Penguin's 1986 reprinting of 'The First (1855) Edition') compares it to the Bhagavad-Gita, the Upanishads, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Rimbaud's Illuminations, The Chants of Maldoror, Thus Spake Zarathustra and the works of the Beats, and suggests that 'Song of Myself' 'should be judged... as one of the great inspired (and sometimes insane) prophetic works that have appeared at intervals in the Western world'. I agree (though not necessarily with the 'insane' part). With its insistence on a universal spirit beyond the senses or the intellect, and its bold adoption of the voice of that spirit, it resembles nothing so much as one of those letters dropped in the street, signed with the name of God. I said it is without irony, but a gentle self-mockery runs through it, enough to convince us of the humility of the man as he wrestles his personality into submission to hear snatches of the inner voice. 'Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fogs with linguists and contenders,' he says early on (sounding again like Dylan: 'You've been with professors and they've all liked your looks'), and just before the famous yawp he admits: 'The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me.... he complains of my gab and my loitering.' But in the end, though he can't refrain from fictionalising his own portrait in a dandy's effort to give his outpourings the credibility of the proletariat ('Walt Whitman, an American, one of the roughs'), the impression he leaves is one of deepest attachment to, regard for and identification with the reader. I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love, If you want me again look for me under your bootsoles. 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 some where waiting for you. Leaves of Grass was self-published by Whitman, a printer's assistant, in Brooklyn in 1855.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Jones

    "Song of Myself" is a work of pure genius comparable to Shakespeare's greatest. I love these last three stanzas especially. When my wife and I were dating long distance and when I was deployed, I would end alot of my letters with "I stop somewhere waiting for you." I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love. If you want me again look for me under your bootsoles. 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 blo "Song of Myself" is a work of pure genius comparable to Shakespeare's greatest. I love these last three stanzas especially. When my wife and I were dating long distance and when I was deployed, I would end alot of my letters with "I stop somewhere waiting for you." I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love. If you want me again look for me under your bootsoles. 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.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ahmed Ibrahim

    مختارات من ديوان الشاعر الأمريكي المتميز، شاعر الطبيعة، المحب لوطنه بصورة كبيرة جلية في أشعاره - والت ويتمان، ديوان ظل شاعره يكتب وينقح فيه أربعين سنة. ويتمان ذو فلسفة مختلفة بعض الشيء، واختلف الجميع عليه، فالبعض يراه متصوفًا والبعض يراه شاذًا! في المقدمة تحدث المترجم عن هذه النقطة ورد بأن أشعاره الجنسية تنفي عنه الاثنان. لكن أغلب أشعاره توضح فلسفته، فهو يرى نفسه في الجميع ويرى الجميع في نفسه، فيها من الفكرة الصوفية لكن بطريقة مختلفة.. فالشاعر عندما يتحدث عن أي شخص/شيء يتحدث كأنه هو، ومثال على هذا مختارات من ديوان الشاعر الأمريكي المتميز، شاعر الطبيعة، المحب لوطنه بصورة كبيرة جلية في أشعاره - والت ويتمان، ديوان ظل شاعره يكتب وينقح فيه أربعين سنة. ويتمان ذو فلسفة مختلفة بعض الشيء، واختلف الجميع عليه، فالبعض يراه متصوفًا والبعض يراه شاذًا! في المقدمة تحدث المترجم عن هذه النقطة ورد بأن أشعاره الجنسية تنفي عنه الاثنان. لكن أغلب أشعاره توضح فلسفته، فهو يرى نفسه في الجميع ويرى الجميع في نفسه، فيها من الفكرة الصوفية لكن بطريقة مختلفة.. فالشاعر عندما يتحدث عن أي شخص/شيء يتحدث كأنه هو، ومثال على هذا قوله: " في كل الناس أرى نفسي لا أزيد عليهم بحبة شعير، ولا أنقص وما أقوله في نفسي –إن خيرًا أو شرًا- أقوله فيهم. " " إنني من كل قومٍ وجنس من كل طائفةٍ ودين " " أيُّها الغريب حين تمر بي، وتريد أن تحدِّثني لم لا تحدِّثني؟ ولم لا أحدِّثك؟ " من سيقرأ أشعاره ستتضح له شخصية الشاعر وفكره بشكل كبير، وخصوصًا قصيدة "أغنية نفسي" والتي تحتل نصف الديوان تقريبًا، وهي قصيدة ممتازة أودعها الكاتب فلسفته، وهذيانه، ووطنيته، بمعنى أعمّ: أودعها نفسه. أما عن الترجمة فممتازة، لم تنتقص من القصائد بل أضافت لها، فالقصائد بلغتها الأصلية قصائد نثرية ذات سطور طويلة، وفي الترجمة قطّعها المترجم بطريقة تجعلها أقرب إلى الشعر الحر. " مطوفًا أفكر في الكون، رأيت القليل الذي هو خير يتقدم بخطًى ثابتة نحو الخلود. ورأيتُ الكثير الذي هو شر يمضي سريعًا: يَنحَل ويتبدَّد ويموت. "

  21. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Literary rapture. I don't know how else I could describe my first experience reading Leaves of Grass. It was pure literary rapture. I highly recommend Leaves of Grass to everyone - especially those who still believe, or want to believe, in the basic goodness of the American Experiment. Pick up the slim first edition (Whitman revised and expanded Leaves of Grass throughout his life. The final product, which is what is most often seen on bookshelves, is a bloated, redundant beast. Read the whole t Literary rapture. I don't know how else I could describe my first experience reading Leaves of Grass. It was pure literary rapture. I highly recommend Leaves of Grass to everyone - especially those who still believe, or want to believe, in the basic goodness of the American Experiment. Pick up the slim first edition (Whitman revised and expanded Leaves of Grass throughout his life. The final product, which is what is most often seen on bookshelves, is a bloated, redundant beast. Read the whole thing, introduction included, preferably in one sitting. It will change you.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anima

    ‘I will not make poems with reference to parts, But I will make poems, songs, thoughts, with reference to ensemble, And I will not sing with reference to a day, but with reference to all days, And I will not make a poem nor the least part of a poem but has reference to the soul, Because having look’d at the objects of the universe, I find there is no one nor any particle of one but has reference to the soul ‘

  23. 5 out of 5

    Yassmeen Altaif

    تعرفت على الكتاب من باب الصدفة، أبحث عن كتاب ديني ومن خلال البحث كان هذا الكتاب من المئة الكتب التي ينصح بقراءتها، أسم الكتاب آثار فضولي عن ماذا تتحدث هذه الأوراق. وبعد البحث اكتشفت ان أوراق العشب شعر، وبدأت قراءته لأول مرة إقرأ كتاب شعري مترجم وليس قصائد عربية. القصائد جميلة جداً، والترجمة جيدة وممتازة. المواضيع المتناولة في الكتاب رائعة، بدأها بقصائد بهذا الكتاب مناشد المكتبات والقارئ وختمها بأغنية عن نفسه. "أيتها الخجلى أيتها المتدفقة بالأنوثة، آه لو جذبتك إليّ لأغرس فيك للمرة الأولى شفتي رجل تعرفت على الكتاب من باب الصدفة، أبحث عن كتاب ديني ومن خلال البحث كان هذا الكتاب من المئة الكتب التي ينصح بقراءتها، أسم الكتاب آثار فضولي عن ماذا تتحدث هذه الأوراق. وبعد البحث اكتشفت ان أوراق العشب شعر، وبدأت قراءته لأول مرة إقرأ كتاب شعري مترجم وليس قصائد عربية. القصائد جميلة جداً، والترجمة جيدة وممتازة. المواضيع المتناولة في الكتاب رائعة، بدأها بقصائد بهذا الكتاب مناشد المكتبات والقارئ وختمها بأغنية عن نفسه. "أيتها الخجلى أيتها المتدفقة بالأنوثة، آه لو جذبتك إليّ لأغرس فيك للمرة الأولى شفتي رجل مقدام" "من أكون أنا؟ غير طفل مسرور بصوت اسمي؟ " " ها هو ذا الهواء المشترك الذي يغسل العالم"

  24. 5 out of 5

    Liz Janet

    Unlike many Americans, I was not introduced to Walt Whitman during my school years through English/Literature/Composition classes, but through a magnificent and beautiful film called Dead Poets Society. I fell in love with his poetry then, of course, not all of his poetry is shown, for the film speaks more of literature and its importance to human consciousnesses, rather than the different dead poets, but it did introduce me to "O Captain! My Captain!"(which is not in this collection, and I am Unlike many Americans, I was not introduced to Walt Whitman during my school years through English/Literature/Composition classes, but through a magnificent and beautiful film called Dead Poets Society. I fell in love with his poetry then, of course, not all of his poetry is shown, for the film speaks more of literature and its importance to human consciousnesses, rather than the different dead poets, but it did introduce me to "O Captain! My Captain!"(which is not in this collection, and I am so angry about it, because it should be in all of Whitman's works. I would however, not refer to him as Homer or Dante, I do not believe there might come a poet that will compare to the scope of those two, the closest I can get to someone compared to Whitman would be, maybe, Emily Dickinson. A minority of the poems in this collection, but to me the most important at the time, deal a lot with preserving the union of the states, instead of what the South advocated, a separation. (One of the greatest economical disasters in the history of the US) With Song of Myself, which mostly speaks of private freedom, some have interpret it to mean his sexuality, but I have always thought of it as the entire "freedom" aspect, in a time where slavery was rampant. He was well known for opposing slavery, of course, he still had the skewed ideas of the time even though he considered himself egalitarian, and later on he saw abolition as a threat, which is one of the many points I disagree with him. Now, the vast majority deals with sexuality. At the time of the original publication, many called this work obscene, for as many poets of the time, had done away with realism and the material world, and chose to write in a more allegorical manner that used symbolism and the religious/spiritual. I am more of an allegorical pal myself, but these poems are not at all offensive, people back then were prudes. All this said, I do not agree with the "historical" consensus that this work is one of the greatest things to have come out of the United States. I believe many other poets, novelist, and short story writers, have contributed much more, not only to American literature, but to world literature. To say his work is the best of all, is kind of silly. But I am still going to re-read these poems in the future, I wish to see how much more my views can be influential to me.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Philip Cartwright

    First the pros: Whitman's free verse is years ahead of its time. I kept having to remind myself that he published this work in 1855. Wordsworth had only been dead for five years, Tennyson and Browning were at the height of their powers and Longfellow was still churning them out. Whitman was an important moderniser. His verse has tremendous energy. It crackles off the page and I was often swept giddily along by the blizzard of words. Plus, there are some truly striking images to be found. At its be First the pros: Whitman's free verse is years ahead of its time. I kept having to remind myself that he published this work in 1855. Wordsworth had only been dead for five years, Tennyson and Browning were at the height of their powers and Longfellow was still churning them out. Whitman was an important moderniser. His verse has tremendous energy. It crackles off the page and I was often swept giddily along by the blizzard of words. Plus, there are some truly striking images to be found. At its best, his poetry is deeply evocative yet also disorientating, allowing the reader to see the "mundane" through new eyes. This is linked to Whitman's celebration of ordinary men and women, which I also welcomed. While Tennyson was writing about Greek myths and Browning was constructing the interior monologues of Renaissance aristocrats, Whitman's focus was the beauty and profundity of the everyday. In this respect he was the heir to Wordsworth. Finally, his positivity is forcefully expressed and can be uplifting or even inspiring. Sometimes. This caveat brings us to the cons: There are, frankly, way too many words. Image tumbles after imagine in an incontinent stream. I'm sure this was intentional; Whitman wants to overwhelm the reader and the sheer variety of people, objects, occupations, landscapes, etc can sometimes produce a sense of wonder. But it can also bore the reader as Whitman hammers his point into the ground for page after page. Like Dylan Thomas, he seems to have had a facile knack for poetic turns of phrase - they just flowed out of him. But the danger is that the significance of his words diminishes as their volume spirals towards infinity. Finally, there is something a bit cheap about Whitman's unfailingly positive mysticism. All is good, he blithely assures us, even suffering, pain, ruin and death. But there's absolutely no sense that he's had to struggle to achieve this benign equanimity. He was what William James described as a "healthy-minded", "once-born" writer; someone who was constitutionally incapable of being distressed by the darker side of life. As a result, his mysticism can seem less like an insight and more like a sort of cheerful stupidity. He is not so much a Buddha as a village idiot with an exceptional vocabulary.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Beth

    Few people know that I curl up with Song of Myself whenever i am depressed. i gave a nice boy from England my beautiful edition once as a birthday gift, so now i curl up with this dreadful Norton Anthology edition where the pages are thinner than onion skins. once i get to the end and reread some of my favorites bits i always find i am ready to rejoin the family of mankind again as tolerable, if not pleasurable, company. I think, as many do, that the affirmation and daring and greed and urgency Few people know that I curl up with Song of Myself whenever i am depressed. i gave a nice boy from England my beautiful edition once as a birthday gift, so now i curl up with this dreadful Norton Anthology edition where the pages are thinner than onion skins. once i get to the end and reread some of my favorites bits i always find i am ready to rejoin the family of mankind again as tolerable, if not pleasurable, company. I think, as many do, that the affirmation and daring and greed and urgency in Whitman's poem is somehow the essence of the American spirit as it is distinct from all others. if you can not afford therapy, or even self help books on tape, i highly recommend this treatment procedure.

  27. 4 out of 5

    anna (readingpeaches)

    SUCK MY DICK WALT

  28. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    To quote Robert Louis Stevenson:…like a large shaggy dog just unchained scouring the beaches of the world and baying at the moon.But let's look at the positive side. Monica Lewinsky gave a copy to Bill Clinton as a present.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Holy crap this is boring and pretentious. Admittedly, I don't like poetry, but I'm trying to make my way through some books that are considered classics. This is a DNF for me. IMO, poetry needs to rhyme. I'll stick with Dr. Seuess from now on.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    “I am he bringing help for the sick as they pant on their backs. And for strong upright men I bring yet more needed help. I heard what was said of the universe, Heard it and heard it of several thousand years; It is middling well as far as it goes—but is that all?” Song of Myself, Canto 41 This canto sort of sums up what I love about Whitman. He reminds me that there is so much to celebrate, reminds me that what has been said is not all. There’s a reason why we’ve all heard about the yawp and the boot- “I am he bringing help for the sick as they pant on their backs. And for strong upright men I bring yet more needed help. I heard what was said of the universe, Heard it and heard it of several thousand years; It is middling well as far as it goes—but is that all?” Song of Myself, Canto 41 This canto sort of sums up what I love about Whitman. He reminds me that there is so much to celebrate, reminds me that what has been said is not all. There’s a reason why we’ve all heard about the yawp and the boot-soles, why the ideas are so timeless and the poetry so repeatable. The end of Song of Myself is breathtaking. The beginning and middle aren’t bad either. “Oxen that rattle the yoke and chain or halt in the leafy shade what is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life.” Song of Myself, Canto 13 Is it any wonder that Whitman inspired so many writers? DH Lawrence, Neruda, Lorca, Ginsberg … After reading this, I can hear a little of Whitman’s voice in their work. A true pioneer. Song of Myself is the masterpiece, but others I liked almost as much: Proud Music of the Storm To Think of Time To a Locomotive in Winter And this bit from Song of the Open Road, that seems a fitting way to end the year: "Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road. Healthy, free, the world before me, The long, brown path before me leading wherever I choose. Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune."

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