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Leaves of Grass: The "Death-Bed" Edition

4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  500 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Abraham Lincoln read it with approval, but Emily Dickinson described its bold language and themes as "disgraceful." Ralph Waldo Emerson found it "the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet produced." Published at the author's expense on July 4, 1855, Leaves of Grass inaugurated a new voice and style into American letters and gave expression to an o ...more
Paperback, 800 pages
Published November 28th 2000 by Modern Library
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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
Jul 01, 2007 Syd rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I read this at least once a year, usually out loud to myself...because the words are like fruit best eaten over a bowl.
Malak Alrashed
Dec 18, 2015 Malak Alrashed rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
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
When I give the Deathbed edition 5 stars I am following the guidelines of the rating system without fudging. The book is amazingly. It is beautiful, thoughtful and so many things rolled into one until it is inclusive to a fault.

One of the tensions of the book originates from this extremity. Delivering so much in so many ways leaves this reader, not just overwhelmed, at times, but also with the pain of feeling mentally hazed.

But, it is worth it. I am certain I will return to that weirdly satisfy
Charlotte Gijzen
Oct 10, 2014 Charlotte Gijzen rated it it was amazing
Whitman, to me, is what life is about. Leaves of Grass has for me always been a celebration of life and love and all those other things we encounter. It is pure and raw and he conveys emotion in a way no other poet does. That's why I love Whitman and Leaves of Grass.
Aug 18, 2016 L. rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, us-civil-war
When Whitman is good, he's quite affecting, but when he's bad, his writing degenerates into a series of interminable rambles and lists and vague platitudes about the greatness & boundless promises of America, the horrors of war, &c. I suppose its to his credit that he set out to do his own thing without trying to conform to any norms regarding appropriate subject matter or prior poetic models, but a certain degree of self-censorship would've been a blessing, given that Leaves of Grass co ...more
I've read half.
May 09, 2015 Jeff rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Americanlit critters
Recommended to Jeff by: Mom
01/31/2011 on page 86
I forgot how enjoyable reading poultry could be. I was always afraid of this book; maybe i feared i'd like it?! Perhaps i wouldn't've noticed all on my own, but somebody's prefatory material (William Carlos Williams's?) said it reminds one of William Blake and i totally agree. If i continue to enjoy it, i'll recommend this to my Blake-nut pal.

01/31/2011 on page 116
Done with "Song of Myself" ... an unkempt, erratic giant dressed in tattered motley of a poem with several patch
Danny Daley
Aug 02, 2016 Danny Daley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
About three years ago, I read the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass. Infamously, the Deathbed Edition can, and in some ways should, be seen as an altogether different book. It's roughly 370 pages longer, and many of the poems in the 1855 edition were edited. Although I read the 1855 in a reasonable amount of time, I spent the past three years on the Deathbed edition, reading the poems more slowly and taking long breaks from the work altogether. Because of their differences, I thought it best to re ...more
Feb 27, 2010 Mj rated it it was amazing
I first bought a copy of Leaves of Grass around 1980- a 400-some page mass market paperback with tiny print that I never actually read but would pick up from time to time, promising myself that I would soon spend time reading. In usual epic fashion I dragged this out 'til
2007 when I decided that now I really, really, really would read Leaves of Grass. So of course I had to go out and buy a new copy that I would really really read, and this one was over 700 pages- even more intimidating and off-p
Sep 02, 2016 Roxane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the last edition and the 1855 edition - he must have been a fascinating man. Loved his poetry, and his feelings towards America ("The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem."); his no nonsense attitude towards the government ("The President is up there in the White House for is not you who are here for him, The Secretaries act in their bureaus for you....not you here for them, The Congress convenes every December for you, Laws, courts, the forming of states, ...more
Andrea Blythe
Nov 21, 2012 Andrea Blythe rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
The "Deathbed Edition" is an 800+ page volume containing all of Whitman's last changes and additions to Leaves of Grass. It contains some of his most famous poems, including "Song of Myself."

It took me over two years, reading a poem here and there, to finish this massive tome of poetry. Much of it delighted me, particularly those poems in which Whitman celebrates life and beauty from every man, woman, and child to the smallest blade of grass.

His works about soldiering and war were of less appea
Aug 01, 2012 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Early in this vast volume, Whitman offers the reader what essentially amounts to a pick-up line: "Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?" Thus he begins a rather intimate seduction of the reader, questing for an erotic, honest, open, and hopeful relationship between poet and audience that is free of judgment, shame, pedantry, preachiness, or secrets. Reading LEAVES OF GRASS is like reading a lover's journal t ...more
Jan 25, 2010 Julia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: romantics
Shelves: poetry
This is the hardcover deathbed edition, published in 1992 by Simon & Shuster. I began reading Walt Whitman after seeing the film Dead Poets Society as a teenager. I have yet to finish Whitman's life's work, but I've enjoyed what I have read enough to sell my old incomplete paperback and acquire a permanent hardcover volume for my bookshelf. For poems over 150 years old, they are still amazingly resonant and free of many of the constraints of Victorianism that dates his contemporaries to a mo ...more
Sep 10, 2007 Samantha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
His is the poetry that i keep coming back to again, and again, and again. Every time i read another poem, or peruse "song of myself" it seems like i gain a new insight or realize that somehow, Whitman has put into words what all of us feel but can never truly convey.

"Do i contradict myself?
Very well then, i contradict myself.
(I am large. I contain multitudes.)"

He has a complex personality that is always at odds... his self perception is so strong and potent, yet oddly realistic and clear, with s
Dewayne Martin
May 02, 2012 Dewayne Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: always-reading
Simply put, the BEST snap-shot of America in the mid-1800's that I feel exists (especially for New York City and the Northeast in general). I go back and forth on if I love Leaves of Grass more or Specimen Days, but I think LoG wins out in the end as it is a more complete look at life. The death bed edition is a must as far as I am concerned! I read this constantly....over and over. It is always near...
Greg Sirico
On the back of this book there is a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of my favorite writers and thinkers, and he says that Leaves of Grass is "the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet produced." And to me that is a understatement. This was a wonderful, angelic collection of poem. This collection houses one of my favorite poems of all time, Oh Captain, My Captain. Lastly, i highly recommend this to everyone.
Aug 04, 2007 Carie rated it it was amazing
When I first read these verses I was so jaded (high school). So I'm really glad that I picked them back up now that I'm open to the gorgeous, timeless, wacky joy of this totally batshit, blissed-out genius. Don't get me wrong, I still love irony and post(post)modern word games, but more and more I appreciate the sincerity and bravery of writers that use language as an instrument of rapture.
Feb 29, 2008 Ariel rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2004
On my first read I found it boring, pretentious, and to drag on forever. Review gave me a more favorable impression. I am not sure the poem is the masterpiece some believe but some of the sections do evoke images and feelings strong and clear.
tish Ramsey
Nov 05, 2009 tish Ramsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Whitman's poems have brought me great comfort during these last few months. His writing is both powerful and authentic but what I love most is how he captures the beauty of nature. Song of the Open Road is nothing short of spectacular!
Craig Tyler
Apr 05, 2014 Craig Tyler rated it liked it
I wanted to like this more than I actually did. Only got about a third of the way through. It gets pretty redundant pretty fast. Probably better in short stretches.
Apr 15, 2014 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really beautiful, this us an uplifting collection of beautiful poetry. Some famous poems like "O captain, my captain" and lesser known works like "assurances "and "A clear midnight ".
Sep 28, 2008 Christopher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sigh... Can't recommend this enough. Intimate, Vivacious, Haughty, Electrical. Great art that will speak through ages to come - to individuals - to you directly...
Mar 20, 2007 joel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
read it in 96, and 97,98,99,2000,2001,2002, well you get the idea. Whenever I miss America I read Song of Myself, and I am home again. Song of Myself discribes what America was and what it can be.
Aug 21, 2015 Maxine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Too repetitive and often rambling, this was a chore to read. I don't doubt he has written some very profound lines but they are mostly obscured by the dross.
Larry K
Apr 28, 2016 Larry K rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I always heard the first edition is best and Whitman ' s tinkering made some of his original poems worse off, but still it's Whitman, it's LOG, it's great.
Sarah rated it liked it
Nov 02, 2007
Courd rated it really liked it
May 13, 2011
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Aug 20, 2011
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Aug 03, 2013
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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
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“I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d, I stand and look at them long and long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition, They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins, They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God, Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things, Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago, Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.”
“Where joyous full of faith, spreading white sails, She cleaves the ether mid the sparkle and the foam of day, or under many a star at night, By sailors young and old haply will I, a reminiscence of the land, be read,” 2 likes
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