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About Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman was born on May 31, 1819, near Huntington, Long Island, New York. On July 4, 1855, the first edition of Leaves of Grass, the volume of poems that for the next four decades would become his lifes work, was placed on sale. Although some critics treated the volume as a joke and others were outraged by its unprecedented mixture of mysticism and earthiness, the book attracted the attention of some of the finest literary intelligences. His poetry slowly achieved a wide readership in America and in England, where he was praised by Swinburne and Tennyson. (D. H. Lawrence later referred to Whitman as the"greatest modern poet, and"the greatest of Americans. Whitman suffered a stroke in 1873 and was forced to retire to Camden, New Jersey, where he would spend the last twenty years of his life. There he continued to write poetry, and in 1881 the seventh edition of Leaves of Grass was published to generally favorable reviews. However, the book was soon banned in Boston on the grounds that it was obscene literature. In January 1892 the final edition of Leaves of Grass appeared on sale, and Whitman's life work was complete. He died two months later on the evening of March 26, 1892, and was buried four days afterward at Harleigh Cemetery in Camden.
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Chosen by the non-profit organization American Poetry & Literacy Project, these much-loved verses include 13 selections from the Common Core State Standards Initiative: "Casey at the Bat," "Fog," "The New Colossus," "Chicago," "I, Too, Sing America," "O Captain! My Captain!," "Paul Revere's Ride," "The Road Not Taken," "The Raven," "Because I Could Not Stop for Death," "Mending Wall," "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," and "The River Merchant's Wife: A Letter."
Five works in one collection - Also available for paperback
Work 1: Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Written as a compilation of poems in the mid-1800s celebrating humanity, the value of the human mind, and nature. These poems in this collection were heavily inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson, himself a romantic, and the Transcendentalist Movement that was popular at the time. While most of the poems offer praise to nature and a person’s relative role in it, the title itself, Leaves of Grass, is a pun minimizing the value of the very paper that they were written on.
Work 2: Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman's Letter Correspondence by Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson
The very complex relationship between Emerson and Whitman was publicly displayed in open letters that they had scribed to one another. Emerson, enthusiastically welcoming Whitman to his great career, made a very public proclamation of awe-inspiring praise to the poet.
Work 3: O Captain! My Captain by Walt Whitman
Written about the death of President Abraham Lincoln, this poem emphasizes the grief and sorrow felt by the American people in the throes of mourning upon his assassination. The Civil War influenced Whitman’s and his poetry.
Work 4: When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d by Walt Whitman
Written in the summer of 1865 during the country’s profound national mourning over the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, this poem was a pastoral elegy referencing the recently concluded Civil War. Whitman uses imagery and symbols to describe the president, his death, and the emotional experience.
Work 5: A Complete Biography of Walt Whitman by CSA Publishing
Walt Whitman, a 19th Century American journalist, and poet was considered a Unionist with many of his works, written in free verse, revolving around the events and experiences of the Civil War. His awareness of suffering, grief, and revulsion are apparent in many of his later prose and public viewpoints. His published works and collections were praised by poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson as “being of extraordinary wit and wisdom.”
One of Walt Whitman's most loved and greatest poems, "Song of Myself" is an optimistic and inspirational look at the world. Originally published as part of "Leaves of Grass" in 1855, "Song of Myself" is as accessible and important today as when it was first written. Read "Song of Myself" and enjoy a true poetic masterpiece.
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 it...
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- Font adjustments & biography included
- Unabridged (100% Original content)
About Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Leaves of Grass is a poetry collection by the American poet Walt Whitman. Though the first edition was published in 1855, Whitman spent most of his professional life writing and re-writing Leaves of Grass, revising it multiple times until his death. This resulted in vastly different editions over four decades—the first a small book of twelve poems and the last a compilation of over 400. The poems of Leaves of Grass are loosely connected, with each representing Whitman's celebration of his philosophy of life and humanity. This book is notable for its discussion of delight in sensual pleasures during a time when such candid displays were considered immoral. Where much previous poetry, especially English, relied on symbolism, allegory, and meditation on the religious and spiritual, Leaves of Grass (particularly the first edition) exalted the body and the material world. Influenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Transcendentalist movement, itself an offshoot of Romanticism, Whitman's poetry praises nature and the individual human's role in it. However, much like Emerson, Whitman does not diminish the role of the mind or the spirit; rather, he elevates the human form and the human mind, deeming both worthy of poetic praise.
You’ll find more than 90 poems by 50 American and British masters (mainly from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries), including Whitman, Byron, Millay, Sandburg, Service, Bliss Carman, Robert Louis Stevenson, John Masefield, Langston Hughes, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Shelley, Tennyson, Yeats, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Claude McKay, Christina Rossetti, and other fellow travelers. Their poems celebrate the real and metaphorical journeys each of us takes in the course of our lives towards love, discovery, loss, leaving the nest, and coming home.
Whatever your mode of transportation, and wherever you are going, take this literary traveling companion with you for hours of reading enjoyment and insight into the road that lies ahead.