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Poetry and Prose (Library of America)

4.28  ·  Rating Details ·  5,876 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
Contains the first and "deathbed" editions of "Leaves of Grass," and virtually all of Whitman's prose, with reminiscences of nineteenth-century New York City, notes on the Civil War, especially his service in Washington hospitals and glimpses of President Lincoln, and attacks on the misuses of national wealth after the war.
Paperback, 1407 pages
Published May 1st 1996 by Library of America (first published 1982)
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Collected Works by Flannery O'ConnorFour Novels of the 1960s by Philip K. DickTales by H.P. LovecraftCollected Stories by Raymond CarverPoetry and Prose by Walt Whitman
Library of America
5th out of 170 books — 23 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeA Midsummer Night's Dream by William ShakespeareBrave New World by Aldous HuxleyThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienHow the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
Gilmore Girls: Season 5
36th out of 72 books — 24 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jun 11, 2016 William1 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 19-ce, us, poetry, nonfiction
Started on the expanded 530 page edition (1891-92) of "Leaves of Grass," the so called deathbed version. Reading as a periodic alternative to prose, this should keep me busy for a month or more. I had finished 1855 edition a few years ago, which is exquisite. His main device is the catalog. He inventories America, good and bad. He loves the totality. It's fascinating how this poetry of exhortation, seemingly addressed to a multitude, can also be intimate.

What a paean to masculinity, to the body
James Murphy
Jan 30, 2013 James Murphy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This time I reread only Leaves of Grass. For me it's a touchstone. I've read it many times, returning to it because I find it comforting and reassuring. Whitman himself explains it very well, in this edition on p512: "Not till the waters refuse to glisten for you and the leaves to rustle for you, do my words refuse to glisten and rustle for you." With muscular language like that combined with his demonstrated largeness of heart and care of everything in the world, his poetry is infectious. Readi ...more
Oct 20, 2010 Bruce rated it it was amazing
In addition to all of Whitman’s prose, this volume contains two editions of “Leaves of Grass.” I read the 1855 edition before reading the final 1891-92 edition. It began with a prose preface that was moderately interesting, although I liked the poetry better. Whitman revels in particularity, encyclopedically. His verse is not best appreciated by rushing through it (as we were often prone to do when reading it for a course in high school or college), but it rather needs to be read slowly and thou ...more
Patrick Gibson
Aug 02, 2009 Patrick Gibson rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Patrick by: Calliope
Shelves: poetry
It is the only edition you will ever need. Keep it near at all times.

O me! O life . . . of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish;
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;
Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;
Of the empty and useless years of the rest—wi
Helene Papageorge
Sep 12, 2007 Helene Papageorge rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: 19th Century American big-time fans
What makes this edition of Library of America Editions valuable is that they have reprinted the original versions in the front and the reworked and expanded versions which is about 2/3 of the anthology. I hadn't realised that Whitman had revised as much as he did.
A must own.
Jun 12, 2008 Desiree rated it it was amazing
There are absolutely not enough words with enough quantitative meaning between humans to express how much I ADORE WALT WHITMAN!

I was so lucky to be able to take a graduate level English course dedicated exclusively to his poetry.

To sing ourselves and celebrate ourselves, my ultimate goal in life would be to live as cosmosexually as he could write.

Not a perfect man, nor a perfect poet, but an admirable artist whose poems are a comfort and a revelation every time I turn to him.

If only the American
Sep 10, 2015 Zari added it
Shelves: poem, classic, literature
"The poems distilled from other poems will probably pass away. The coward will surely pass away. The expectation of the vital and great can only be satisfied by the demeanor of the vital and great. The swarms of the polished deprecating and reflectors and the polite float off and leave no remembrance. America prepares with composure and goodwill for the visitors that have sent word. It is not intellect that is to be their warrant and welcome. The talented, the artist, the ingenious, the editor, ...more
Jan 13, 2015 Jsavett1 rated it it was amazing
What do I dare say about Whitman? Like any good English major, I'd read many of these poems or parts of these poems before. But I decided to take this collection on a few months ago because I hadn't revisited Uncle Walt in at least a decade. To be honest, it might have been seeing Leaves of Grass in Breaking Bad that reminded me how much that book, as it does in the show, heads to TRUTH.

I don't say that lightly. I don't even believe in TRUTH. I believe in truths. Maybe Truths. But if any artist
Feb 11, 2008 Steph rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
This work has a lot more of Whitman than one is traditionally exposed to in high school. There are poems about masturbation, about homosexuality, about sexuality. There are also early works celebrating New York, the everyman, and of course Lincoln. Informative essays in the back of the work flesh out the historical background.
I've gotten more pleasure over the years from Walt Whitman's luscious, astonishing, fresh, earthy-yet-visionary, life-affirming poetry than from any other book, I think. I just keep coming back to this lover of all the world.
Sep 18, 2009 Ian rated it it was amazing
I cherish this book. If I had to choose only one book to read for the rest of life, this might be the one I would choose.
Apr 04, 2014 Ben rated it really liked it

Two galvanized old men, close on the summons to depart this life, their early contemporaries long since gone, only they two left, relics and proofs of the little political bargains, chances, combinations, resentments of a past age, having nothing in common with the age, standing for the first crop of political graves and grave-stones planted in These States, but in no sort standing for the lusty young g
Jun 12, 2013 Keith rated it liked it
Shelves: partial-read
Walt Whitman: Let there be commerce between us. At turns bombastic, ridiculous, beautiful, melodramatic, sublime and enlightening, you leave little unsaid and undone. What’s a reader to think? Could you be more modest? Do you blush?

But that’s the beauty, isn’t it? You are indeed multitudes and contradictions. Well, friend, we are agreed. You’ll give all, and I’ll take what I want. Then we’ll walk the ebbing tide and talk about the world.

Leaves of Grass (1855) – See my separate review of this: h
Kristen Mcchesney
Nov 26, 2010 Kristen Mcchesney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Although, Whitman is not a classical children's poet - I use him a lot when I teach US History. I think that his verse, more than most others, gives a clear, beautiful, truthful insight into the ideals of America. In a poem such as, "I Hear America Singing" the reader envisions a country of people working for the greater good of mankind. These people come together as part of the whole society developing industry and production. More than reading a passage from the textbook, Whitman provides a fi ...more
Debrah A
Mar 24, 2013 Debrah A rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, tv-series
Ironically, although I had known of Whitman for a long time, my first real taste of him came through HBO's Season II, Episode 3, when his poem was read at a funeral (portions in square brackets below were not used in the show):

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
[ I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags. ]
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.
You will hardly know who I am or
Jul 20, 2012 J. rated it really liked it
Shelves: forever-reading
There is nothing to say about Whitman that hasn't already been said.

All that I can say as-to my own feelings regarding his work:

I deeply believe that most modern poetry, in fact, as suggested by many scholars, is done (at-least-in-part) in the 'Whitman voice,' with a few notable exceptions(Plath being one).

I think Leaves of grass was a breakthrough in poetry. I believe that it was such a breakthrough that in terms of structure and formula that it's hard to get away from.

I come back to this book
Jorge Donestevez
Upon first reading Walt Whitman, I detested his style. No rhyming? Are you kidding me? Well, a few months later I heard a very moving recital of his poem "Song of Myself". I re-read the poem with an invigorated energy and was rewarded immensely. Whitman is a genius, one of the best poets, if not the best America has produced. His poems are hymns to America, to the self, to humanity, to democracy; his poetry is web of energetic, profound, free-flowing verses that will captivate you. If you don't ...more
Apr 14, 2008 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
There's a Whitman program on KCTS right now, and I'm reminded of how much I love this book. My girlfriend gave me this book back in high school, then part of the new Library of America series. At that time it was an attempt to express the spiralling ecstasies and wonders of a very romantic first love. Over the years, this same volume has resurfaced every so often, each time showing a different aspect, a new refraction. There are favorite, cherished books that feel like friends and family; for me ...more
Oct 15, 2015 Robyn rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-star, 2015
It won't replace my beautiful Deathbed Edition, but this collection is certainly more comprehensive. It's fascinating to trace the development of certain poems through time.
Chris Via
Sep 16, 2014 Chris Via rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, poetry, 2014
As Ralph Waldo Emerson is the essayist of America's literature, so Whitman is its poet. Who can deny the delight of crafts like "the transparent green-shine" and "[I] am not contain'd between my hat and boots"?
Mar 29, 2014 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My review of Leaves of Grass is here:
Jul 22, 2016 Edralyn rated it it was amazing
May 21, 2008 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For some reason, I've never gotten around to reading Whitman. All I can say is, What a Discovery! I had the impression that Whitman was an egomaniac in extremis. On the surface, he comes close to that in "Song of Myself." But on many re-readings, I think the "energy" you see in that particular poem is more a sense of urgency in his poetic voice. I can't go into detail about the rest of his oeuvre, but I'll be returning time and again to many of his poems.
Justin Kern
Feb 07, 2016 Justin Kern rated it it was ok
This doesn't really do it for me.
Alex Weir
Sep 21, 2007 Alex Weir rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
I own the LOA hardcover edition of this; I'm sure the paperback is identical, or close enough to it. Ideal for the reader who's new to the universe of perception and beauty that is Whitman. Look at all the 5-star ratings given here! That should tell you something. Lie down in "Leaves of Grass" -- you'll never be the same. A book for everyone alive, for all time.
Gary McDowell
Feb 28, 2010 Gary McDowell rated it it was amazing
I also have a 1931 edition of Leaves of Grass that's pretty bitchin'. That's where I read it for the first time. Still need to go through this collection and reread though.

8/18/08: Reading Specimen Days now. It's great.

02/28/10: And my 2-month immersion into Whitman, Dickinson, Emerson, Melville, etc begins tomorrow. Bon voyage!
Oct 14, 2015 Jonathan rated it it was ok
Whitman is at his best when he makes his point, and SHUTS UP. But most of the time he doesn't. It's like he thinks, "That's well done! Let me say it again with different words." Pretty soon I am just reading and not absorbing anything he is saying. Sure, a few poems stick with you, but mostly he just makes white noise.
Joy Jones
Oct 01, 2008 Joy Jones rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those who like poetry
Recommended to Joy by: teacher
Right now he is my favorite poet. Just an all American man who really lived his life to the fullest and helped many people along the way. Love all of his work. His poetry really makes you feel the way he felt when he wrote it. He had a love of nature (esp. birds) like no other.
Dennis Schvejda
Oct 26, 2012 Dennis Schvejda rated it it was amazing
Completed reading the works of Walt Whitman... Really enjoyed it! Very impressed with his work, particularly the gender and race equality expressed, love of the outdoors, first hand accounts of travel, Nature, Politics, Civil War... and finally the way he refers to "you the reader."
Ginnie Grant
Jan 07, 2014 Ginnie Grant rated it it was amazing
Hands down, one of the best poetry book ever written!
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  • A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers/Walden/The Maine Woods/Cape Cod
  • Collected Poetry & Prose
  • Collected Poems, Prose, and Plays
  • Essays and Lectures
  • Poetry and Tales
  • Tales and Sketches
  • Novels, Mont Saint Michel, The Education
  • The Complete Poems
  • Redburn, White-Jacket, Moby-Dick
  • The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It
  • Novels, 1930-1935
  • Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose, and Letters
  • Coleridge's Poetry and Prose (Critical Edition)
  • The Complete Poems
  • The Complete Poetry
  • Selected Poems
  • The Collected Poems, Vol. 2: 1939-1962
Walter Whitman was an American poet, essayist, journalist, and humanist. He was a part of the transition between Transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse.

Born on Long Island, Whitman worked as a journalist, a teacher, a government clerk, and a volunteer nurse during
More about Walt Whitman...

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