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Leaves of Grass

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  48,155 ratings  ·  1,157 reviews
In 1855, Walt Whitman published — at his own expense — the first edition of Leaves of Grass, a visionary volume oftwelve poems. Showing the influence of a uniquely American form of mysticism known as Transcendentalism, which eschewed the general society and culture of the time, thewriting is distinguished byan explosively innovative free verse style and previously unmentio ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published February 27th 2007 by Dover Publications (first published 1855)
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sckenda
Walt Whitman is my prophet of love and optimism. His words, his attitude, and his exemplary life have summoned me to deeper humanity. Did you know that Whitman spent all his free time and money upon the wounded and the dying soldiers in army hospitals during the American Civil War? “I am faithful, I do not give out.” He brought them candy and nuts and good cheer. He held their maimed limbs, played games with them, and wrote letters home for them.

He whispered comfort in the ears of the dying. Wh
...more
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
...more
Ben Wilson
Mar 24, 2008 Ben Wilson rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: democrats, republicans, flag-shitters
Recommended to Ben by: President Clinton gave this as a present to Monica Lewinsky
Shelves: neverfinished
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
...more
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
...more
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.
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 weak
...more
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
...more
Bryan (Beej) 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
...more
Alexander
The 5-star rating is for the cream of this collection, those superb monuments of world literature such as Song of Myself, Body Electric, The Sun-Down Poem, Blue Ontario's Shores, As I Ebb'd with the Ocean of Life, Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking, When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd, The Sleepers, Fancies at Navesink, and a double-armful of the shorter lyrics.

Whitman's B-Sides, about 70% of this chunky 1892 "death bed edition," rarely come up to snuff, and despite a virtuoso flourish her
...more
Brenda
Todo empezó con Whitman. Yo empecé con Whitman. Él es el culpable de que hoy sea como soy, de que esté aquí y de que vaya por el camino que voy. Una vez me dijeron que si existía un verso escrito para mí, ese era: "No dejes de creer que las palabras y las poesías sí pueden cambiar el mundo". Me dijeron que no lo olvidara nunca. Que no perdiera esa esencia que me hacía creer en la literatura. Me djeron que si lo hacía, dejaría de ser yo. Quizá es muy "El club de los poetas muertos" pero desde ent ...more
Sahil Sood
Life granted Whitman- oh wait! Whitman granted himself a moment of transcendence and he chose to spend it writing poetry. This is one man's grand act of delusion- a celebration of self; an ego trip of a scandalous scope. Yet, it is full of fire, zest and cheery optimism to remember for life.
Whitman's poetry is reminiscent of the lost thrills and joys of self-gratification. If anything, this could be my guide to experiencing a literary orgasm- and countless at that! But wait, the poem is not onl
...more
D.R. Haney
Nov 03, 2012 D.R. Haney is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I'm determined to read Leaves of Grass in its formidable entirety, including the annexes of the so-called death-bed edition, convinced, without a shadow of a doubt, that my time is far better invested in Leaves of Grass than it would be in reading, for instance, Infinite Jest, which inspires support groups offering spiritual bread and water to those willing to accompany DWF on his Pynchonesque pilgrimage through a grad-school amusement park. What I've read already of Whitman, including "I Sing t ...more
Michelle Taylor
52. To a Stranger


PASSING stranger! you do not know how longingly I look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking, (it comes to me, as of a dream,)
I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you,
All is recall’d as we flit by each other, fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,
You grew up with me, were a boy with me, or a girl with me, 5
I ate with you, and slept with you—your body has become not yours only, nor left my body mine only,
You give me the pleasure of your eyes,
...more
Lindsay Russo
I always thought it was too spacey for me... His language is so wide open and goes everywhere. But to sit and read it from cover to cover in one sitting was enlightening. Not that I didn't see Whitman in other authors before, but I see so many layers of him now. So well worth the time. I almost wish I had read it aloud.
Mark
Oct 14, 2013 Mark rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: just about anyone with a heart
Yesterday's Washington Post book section featured a review of yet another Walt Whitman biography (the reviewer notes the yet-anotherness of any such effort and maintains that this author has found a fresh perspective).

In reading the review, it dawned on me that it had been years since I read Leaves of Grass, so before I went to bed I picked up my Bantam Classic paperback edition from the '80s to see what I might be able to recall or find anew (Whitman scholars and the otherwise detail obsessed w
...more
Hany Adieb


قراءته ليست بسهلة
فهو يتحدث عن كل شيء و في اي شيء و مجرد في اي شيء

مثلا لو اخذ يشرح لك منظر
يذهب بك حيث الخضرة والبطة والوزة و اسماء الولايات و يمجد ويفخم في حب الرفقة ، و يطيل من القصيدة الاخيرة 51 جزء ، كل شطر احيانا يمثل فكرة لا علاقة لها احيانا بما يعلوها

شعرت انني في حاجة لقراءته مرة اخرى .. كما انني اردت الاسراع في قراءته ...في غير استمتاع ،

لكنه في الحقيقة يحمل معاني سامية واخلاقية .. ربما تتناقض مع مجتمعنا ، و يعلن حبه للانسان ، يحدثك في صور بريئة و اخرى مظلومة ياخذك من الشرق ويطوف بك
...more
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
...more
Nils Samuels
Almost impossible to imagine how this pansexual poem made its way into the hearths and hearts of American critics and readers. The 1855 original version is more impressionistic than later versions. All feature Whitman's aeronautical lists of places and people from all over America. The poem's first word is "I." Its last is "you." The quest is to bridge that gap. A quintessential transcendental poem of the sort that Emerson imagined and was lucky enough to witness if not write. Whitman and Dickin ...more
Andrew
If you haven't read the 1855 edition of LoG, or if you found Whitman long-winded and stodgy, this book from Dover (one of few American publishers whose cost to content ratio is above the water line) is a must. It's the version Whitman cranked off illegally at work, and stashed, anonymously, in bookstores across New York, and sent via mail to President Lincoln, who actually read it. Impromptu, rough, and inimitably sweet, just like Walt.
Lindsay Wing
This is my new Bible. I can't imagine a spiritual text that better encompasses the joy of existence. I know its roots are in Eastern philosophies and Buddhist teachings, which is fine by me, but it also incorporates those philosophies with the Western experience and introduces an organic and concrete aspect that makes the whole doctrine beautiful and warm and fragrant and REAL. Whitman, you are my hero!
Michael
I'm not sure how to review poetry. I don't read much of it, but I love the romantics and seem to have entrenched myself with their works. so I wanted to try something different and this seems to be a highly recommend collection. I enjoyed it, it was bold, lyrical but felt overly optimistic, which I'm not into.
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.
Caris
Typical self-published drivel.
Malak Alrashed
I have no idea how I should review poetry, let alone Whitman's poetry, but I'm trying my best here.

I first got to know Whitman in Dead Poets Society film. I remember when Robin Williams gathers his students and starts reading O ME! O LIFE to them, that scene has deeply touched me even though I was little and knew nothing of poetry. I have, ever since, been searching for Whitman's poetry online, reading one or two of his poems and thinking myself a devoted fan. How silly of me. On late 2013 Octo
...more
Evan
There are a lot of bullshit abridged editions of "Leaves of Grass" out there, some just over 100 pages, which is just a joke. A lot of them are listed here at GR. I'm reading the complete unabridged version with "posthumous" additions, and it runs about 700 pages.

I was feeling kind of lonely and lowdown today and Bret Easton Ellis' "Less than Zero" was kind of making me feel less than zero and not helping. I picked Whitman up on a complete lark and became completely absorbed; he was picking up m
...more
Bucket
This is Walt Whitman's poetry book. Early in his life (1850s) it was first published as a slim volume, and over his lifetime he continued to add to it and re-publish it until it became the massive all-encompassing tome it is now. The poems are organized into books that are more or less chronological but also based around themes.

The earliest poems are about the early days of Whitman's life as well as the early days of America and democracy. The physical body is also an important theme. The book
...more
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Whitman so constantly deals with the body. Here we
are in the presence of one of those contradic-
tions, or rather, unifications, which make him in
a certain sense a Hegelian poet. He sings of the
body when he means to sing of the soul simply
because the body, like everything else, is funda-
mentally a manifestation of the soul:

I have said that the soul is not more than the body,

And I have said that the body is not more than the soul.

And he asks:

If the body were not the soul, what is the soul
...more
Frankie
my southern baptist american lit professor told me his work was vulgar and humanist, citing whitman's line – "Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am/touch'd from,/The scent of these arm-pits aroma finer than prayer,/This head more than churches, bibles, and all the creeds." these words were the seed to my introspection and doubts of much of the dogma i later rejected.

Song of Myself (quoted above) eventually helped shake me out of quite a few delusions i had in college
...more
Claudia
Apr 13, 2008 Claudia rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: poetry readers
Recommended to Claudia by: indirectly Susan and Jennifer
I read this for several reasons: my American literature background is pathetic; I bought this book (the 1855, self-published edition) in DC at a Whitman exhibit, and a book I recently finished, "Self Storage," had the main character quoting Whitman. Come to find out, her pivotal decision is greatly informed by knowing and loving Whitman! So glad I did finally read it. I was drawn to two contradictory thougths as I read: the amazing strength and passion of the poetry, and the secret desire for a ...more
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finally taking this book off the shelf to read 3 31 Jun 27, 2013 07:26PM  
Do Self-Published Works Have Any Merit Whatsoever? 7 64 May 20, 2013 04:24PM  
Which edition? 3 45 Aug 16, 2009 07:29AM  
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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
More about Walt Whitman...
Song of Myself Poetry and Prose (Library of America) The Complete Poems Selected Poems Leaves of Grass: The First (1855) Edition

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“Resist much, obey little.” 4358 likes
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