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Come, said my soul, Such verses for my Body let us write, (for we are one,) That should I after return, Or, long, long hence, in other spheres, There to some group of mates the chants resuming, (Tallying Earth's soil, trees, winds, tumultuous waves,) Ever with pleas'd smile I may keep on, Ever and ever yet the verses owning—as, first, I here and now Signing for Sou Come, said my soul, Such verses for my Body let us write, (for we are one,) That should I after return, Or, long, long hence, in other spheres, There to some group of mates the chants resuming, (Tallying Earth's soil, trees, winds, tumultuous waves,) Ever with pleas'd smile I may keep on, Ever and ever yet the verses owning—as, first, I here and now Signing for Soul and Body, set to them my name, Walt Whitman


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Come, said my soul, Such verses for my Body let us write, (for we are one,) That should I after return, Or, long, long hence, in other spheres, There to some group of mates the chants resuming, (Tallying Earth's soil, trees, winds, tumultuous waves,) Ever with pleas'd smile I may keep on, Ever and ever yet the verses owning—as, first, I here and now Signing for Sou Come, said my soul, Such verses for my Body let us write, (for we are one,) That should I after return, Or, long, long hence, in other spheres, There to some group of mates the chants resuming, (Tallying Earth's soil, trees, winds, tumultuous waves,) Ever with pleas'd smile I may keep on, Ever and ever yet the verses owning—as, first, I here and now Signing for Soul and Body, set to them my name, Walt Whitman

30 review for LEAVES OF GRASS (Illustrated): Free Audiobook Link

  1. 5 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. 5 out of 5

    MischaS_

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

  3. 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. ___

  4. 4 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 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.

  5. 4 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Miranda Reads

    We can look at this one of two ways, either I'm a bit late to do a Christmas Book Haul video or I'm hella early for next year. (Click the link to see what other books arrived via the polar express). We can look at this one of two ways, either I'm a bit late to do a Christmas Book Haul video or I'm hella early for next year. (Click the link to see what other books arrived via the polar express).

  8. 5 out of 5

    anna (½ of readsrainbow)

    SUCK MY DICK WALT

  9. 5 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

    Susan Budd

    To read American poetry is to breathe America. With Whitman I inhale the kosmos. I expand. With Dickinson I exhale, become nobody. I contract. Visionaries both. They are the Yang and Yin of American poetry.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Edita

    The most impressive, of course, is "Song of Myself", after, the style of the poems becomes rather repetitive. And though it is said that "he uses repetition, which helps to develop a certain type of magical rhythm to accentuate the ideas stated in the poem", it becomes too much when it reoccurs in every single poem. The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and dark-color’dsea-rocks, and of hay in the barn, The sound of the belch’d words of my voice loos’d to the eddies of the win The most impressive, of course, is "Song of Myself", after, the style of the poems becomes rather repetitive. And though it is said that "he uses repetition, which helps to develop a certain type of magical rhythm to accentuate the ideas stated in the poem", it becomes too much when it reoccurs in every single poem. The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and dark-color’dsea-rocks, and of hay in the barn, The sound of the belch’d words of my voice loos’d to the eddies of the wind, A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms, The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag, The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hill-sides, The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed andmeeting the sun. * Night of south winds—night of the large few stars! Still nodding night—mad naked summer night. Smile O voluptuous cool-breath’d earth! Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees! Earth of departed sunset—earth of the mountains misty-topt! Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon just tinged with blue! Earth of shine and dark mottling the tide of the river! Earth of the limpid gray of clouds brighter and clearer for my sake! Far-swooping elbow’d earth—rich apple-blossom’d earth! Smile, for your lover comes. * Sea of stretch’d ground-swells, Sea breathing broad and convulsive breaths, Sea of the brine of life and of unshovell’d yet always-ready graves, Howler and scooper of storms, capricious and dainty sea, I am integral with you, I too am of one phase and of all phases. * And that my soul embraces you this hour, and we affect each other withoutever seeing each other, and never perhaps to see each other, is every bit aswonderful.

  12. 5 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. 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.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)

    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 wi 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.

  14. 4 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%) There's only so much rhetoric on American imperialism I can ingest and assimilate at a stretch. Later, Mr Whitman. (paused at 47%)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    “I celebrate myself, and sing myself" I read a translation in Dutch of the original edition of 1855, with only 12 poems, and the first one occupies half of the book. This minimal approach (later versions were much, much more elaborate) has the effect of a trumpet call, it's pure vitalism, colored by a strong physical sensuality. It expresses deep faith in life and death, and a sense of belonging to all (a kind of transcendentalism), the organic and the anorganic, the whole universe. At the same t “I celebrate myself, and sing myself" I read a translation in Dutch of the original edition of 1855, with only 12 poems, and the first one occupies half of the book. This minimal approach (later versions were much, much more elaborate) has the effect of a trumpet call, it's pure vitalism, colored by a strong physical sensuality. It expresses deep faith in life and death, and a sense of belonging to all (a kind of transcendentalism), the organic and the anorganic, the whole universe. At the same time it testifies to a fundamental feeling of unfettered freedom, indissolubly linked with the 'I', the ego. Style and language of these poems together form a real verbal orgy. Whitman presents grass as a symbol of life: it's persistent, wild, bending with the wind, present all around. The secret of life?: that's life itself, but with the 'ego' at its center, a complete universe orbiting around itself. “I am large, I contain multitudes". While reading, the rational and moral voice inside myself whispered that it's not that simple, and that all this egocentrism comes with a price. I know a lot of people can't stand the exuberance of the Whitman-show (especially in his later, more elaborate versions). But what the heck: it's a dazzling experience to read this, a breath of fresh air in times of darkness. I can take on the world now.

  16. 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.

  17. 5 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. 4 out of 5

    Ivan

    Maybe one day I will get into poetry but today isn't that day. Maybe one day I will get into poetry but today isn't that day.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chavelli Sulikowska

    Atmospheric, ephemeral. Transcendental. It’s like going on a long walk during a misty rain – everything is being presented as new and fresh, but a little bit blurry and sometimes it is hard to see where you are or the way ahead. There’s not much that Whitman fails to elucidate in this epic prose-poem. I read it in stages, slowly, while reading another novel. I think it was best digested this way. Subject wise it is very dense, but because of the poetic style, Whitman has had to choose his words Atmospheric, ephemeral. Transcendental. It’s like going on a long walk during a misty rain – everything is being presented as new and fresh, but a little bit blurry and sometimes it is hard to see where you are or the way ahead. There’s not much that Whitman fails to elucidate in this epic prose-poem. I read it in stages, slowly, while reading another novel. I think it was best digested this way. Subject wise it is very dense, but because of the poetic style, Whitman has had to choose his words with extreme care – making for a very precise, crystal cut piece of writing, that while seemingly sparse is actually very meaty. Meaning and insightful messaging literally lift off the pages – in the most pertinent and evocative way. While every American may be encouraged to have a copy of Leaves of Grass on their bookshelf, I think it would be amiss to not recommend that everyone can benefit from reading Whitman’s masterpiece at least once in their life.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anima

    “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” ‘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 “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” ‘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 ‘

  21. 5 out of 5

    Z. F.

    I can't believe it, but I'm actually DNF-ing Walt Whitman. I'm not a literary coward, alright? I read old books and long books and poetry books (and old long books of poetry) all the time. I've read Moby-Dick and Middlemarch and Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karamazov and The Divine Comedy and Paradise Lost and half of Shakespeare's corpus, and I enjoyed 'em too! Yet here I find myself, done in by a not-even-that-long collection of not-even-that-old poems. What the hell. Well, I can't believe it, but I'm actually DNF-ing Walt Whitman. I'm not a literary coward, alright? I read old books and long books and poetry books (and old long books of poetry) all the time. I've read Moby-Dick and Middlemarch and Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karamazov and The Divine Comedy and Paradise Lost and half of Shakespeare's corpus, and I enjoyed 'em too! Yet here I find myself, done in by a not-even-that-long collection of not-even-that-old poems. What the hell. Well, for one thing, there's more than one Leaves of Grass. Whitman published the first edition, this edition, in 1855, at the tenderish age of 37. But he kept revising and adding and removing for the rest of his life, putting out new versions periodically as he went along, which culminated finally in the 1892 "deathbed" edition just before he, well, died. You follow? And so these days if you come across a copy of Leaves in the wild, it's usually either the young virile baby-faced 1855 version... ... or the stately old Granddad of American Poetry 1892 one: I can't say much about the deathbed edition because I haven't read it. I suspect the poet had mellowed out a bit by then, as septuagenarians are wont to do. But in 1855 Walt was a literary newcomer, a nobody with a chip on his shoulder, and you should always beware young men who have something to prove. He'd read an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson about how the fledgling USA needed a poet to embody and represent it, and he, Walt, took it upon himself to become that poet—in a more mystical sense to become America itself. Which is all a little silly, yes, but remember that these were the days when a young white guy could up and decide to be the eternal voice of a nation or whatever, and if his stuff was good people would kinda just go with it. Nowadays it's a harder sell. The 1855 Leaves starts out with this interminable, minimum-punctuation prose screed about the role of the Poet and the nature of True Poetry and the perfection of America as a work of Art and a lot of other self-mythologizing tedium like that, and if there's one thing worse than young men with something to prove it's books that begin with authorial screeds. The feel is very Kerouac, which in a historical sense is cool because who knew anyone was writing like Kerouac in the 1850s, but also sucks because like a lot of adults I don't particularly want to read Kerouac even when it's Kerouac. Anyway, I guess maybe the preface just killed the whole experience for me. The poetry itself is a lot better, of course, imitated ad nauseum by subsequent poets but clearly something original, something new for its time, and I liked a lot of it well enough. I had an impression of Whitman's poetry before I started, and that impression was pretty much confirmed; not exceeded, admittedly, but not whatever the opposite of exceeding is either. I admire Whitman as an author and a personality, his audacity and his lust for life and his willingness to live and write more or less openly as a man who loved men (did you know he slept with Oscar Wilde?) well before it was deemed acceptable to do so. But God this book is a lot of lists, a lot of rhapsodizing about how all things are transcendent and beautiful, even ugly things are beautiful, you and me and the bugs and the trees and the cobbler and the blacksmith and the state of New Hampshire and the short-billed marsh wren are all beautiful, all American, all glorify the Creator with our very existence, and after thirty pages or so I felt like I got the point and put the book down and admitted to myself I'd rather do pretty much anything than read the rest. Someday I think I'll try the deathbed version. I think probably I'd like it better, and it doesn’t have a preface.

  22. 5 out of 5

    kaelan

    Whitman, where have you been all my life? But seriously, as someone whose acquaintance with the great "bard of Democracy" had hitherto been strictly secondhand, I was blown away by Leaves of Grass (1855), with how fresh and modern it felt—from its formal elements (language, rhythms, structure...) to the radical egalitarianism of Whitman's vision. And in a way, I guess I'm even glad for Harold Bloom's painfully overwritten and largely unhelpful introductory essay (2005), which, if anything, only s Whitman, where have you been all my life? But seriously, as someone whose acquaintance with the great "bard of Democracy" had hitherto been strictly secondhand, I was blown away by Leaves of Grass (1855), with how fresh and modern it felt—from its formal elements (language, rhythms, structure...) to the radical egalitarianism of Whitman's vision. And in a way, I guess I'm even glad for Harold Bloom's painfully overwritten and largely unhelpful introductory essay (2005), which, if anything, only served to underscore the directness and vitality of its subject.

  23. 5 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. 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.

  24. 4 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.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Madeline

    Yes, I did read this because John Green told me to in Paper Towns. If I didn't have cooler people advising me what to read/watch/listen to, I'd never do anything at all. In any case, I was pleasantly surprised at how I wanted to continue reading once I finished Song of Myself, considering that it's the only Whitman poem I was familiar with (since it's the one that's quoted in both Paper Towns and The Dead Poets Society. I liked most of the poems, although Whitman is a fan of listing things. Over Yes, I did read this because John Green told me to in Paper Towns. If I didn't have cooler people advising me what to read/watch/listen to, I'd never do anything at all. In any case, I was pleasantly surprised at how I wanted to continue reading once I finished Song of Myself, considering that it's the only Whitman poem I was familiar with (since it's the one that's quoted in both Paper Towns and The Dead Poets Society. I liked most of the poems, although Whitman is a fan of listing things. Over and over and over. But he's nice. As an added bonus, one of his poems is super racy and includes, delightfully, the words "man-root" and "man-balls", which just makes me giggle every time I see it. Poetry is fun, kids!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Terence M (often away with the pixies)

    Audiobook - 18:53 hours - Read by: Robin Field I have actually 'read' this book at least twice before now. This week I finished listening to all of the poems in “Leaves of Grass” but it has taken about 14 months to do so. I am not a poetry buff, but this work of Whitman’s, given as a gift to me more than 60 years ago, strikes a special chord in my being. I had great affection for the gift giver who loved and protected me in my later teenage years. Audiobook - 18:53 hours - Read by: Robin Field I have actually 'read' this book at least twice before now. This week I finished listening to all of the poems in “Leaves of Grass” but it has taken about 14 months to do so. I am not a poetry buff, but this work of Whitman’s, given as a gift to me more than 60 years ago, strikes a special chord in my being. I had great affection for the gift giver who loved and protected me in my later teenage years.

  27. 5 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."

  28. 5 out of 5

    Srđan

    3.5/5 Disclaimer: Haven't read the whole book, I've only read The Collected Poems edition. Favorite poems: Miracles The Sleepers Crossing Brooklyn Ferry 3.5/5 Disclaimer: Haven't read the whole book, I've only read The Collected Poems edition. Favorite poems: Miracles The Sleepers Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

  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. 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

    David Lentz

    I am re-reading this timeless masterpiece simply because of the joy and wonder and sense of the miraculous in Whitman's glorious, poetic anthem to America. I am re-reading this timeless masterpiece simply because of the joy and wonder and sense of the miraculous in Whitman's glorious, poetic anthem to America.

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