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The Portable Walt Whitman

4.35 of 5 stars 4.35  ·  rating details  ·  632 ratings  ·  24 reviews
An impressive assembly of prose and poems from the first truly American poet When Walt Whitman self-published Leaves of Grass in 1855 it was a slim volume of twelve poems and he was a journalist and poet from Long Island, little-known but full of ambition and poetic fire. To give a new voice to the new nation shaken by civil war, he spent his entire life revising and addin ...more
ebook, 608 pages
Published December 30th 2003 by Penguin Books (first published 1945)
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I've never been a fan of the Transcendentalists, vastly preferring the English Romantics. Obviously the two aren’t mutually exclusive, but early on I found Emerson boring and Whitman weird. Surprisingly, though, this time around the force of so much of his poetry wore me down, and I actually enjoyed reading him. I still find his “look at how liberated and healthy I am to like the scent of armpits better than prayer” (which doesn’t have a scent but whatever) a bit off-putting. However, I find his ...more
Nov 15, 2007 Anders rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of that old time democracy, the sea-bound
Shelves: favorites
I looked and looked for the most fulfilling edition of Walt Whitman, and I believe this is it. Whitman's a tough man to anthologize-- rather than publish multiple books, he just kept revising and republishing Leaves of Grass for his whole life. Figuring out which poems, and which versions to include must have been a tough task. This anthology is a success. A hearty selection from the full breadth of Whitman's work, this book truly fulfills the task set in its title.

I probably shouldn't have to
Angela Wade
Changed my life. Spoke to me at a time when I felt completely alone.
Christine Jolley
I like his stuff on nature.
Start from the understanding that I love the original "Leaves of Grass". There is an energy and originality and an unbridled joyousness that captivated me when I was in High School and which thrills me still. So the fact that this volume includes those great early poems would elicit praise from me by itself.

But the revelation to me in this volume is "Specimen Days" - especially the entries from Whitman's time during the Civil War. His early training as a journalist and his genius as a poet are c
I don't even know where Michael Warner (or anybody else) would start in arranging Walt Whitman's works into a "portable" collection to be consumed by a casual reader. The man wrote prolifically in all genres for half a century -- and his most famous work, Leaves of Grass, was rewritten so many times it's hard to know which publications to consider "authoritative." I'm not well-versed enough in Whitman to say whether or not the contents of this particular volume do the breadth of his career justi ...more
Jun 10, 2009 Amy is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
There's one poem, I think from "Autumn Rivulets," that I just discovered and absolutely adore: "O Living Always, Always Dying." I see it as a meditation on our ability/inability to move beyond past experiences, to reinvent ourselves daily, to acknowledge that the self from yesterday is not entirely the same self as today, and yet to embody it all, as we are all "living always, always dying".

but I found this in a trash pile (shameful!) when I was moving out of college, and it's as good a place to start as any.


Okay, I haven't read every word of this massive collection, but I have to put it down for a while. It all sounds the same...but I like the sound of it.
Jun 11, 2008 Matt is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Picked this up the other day after seeing a homeless guy in Chinatown who was the spitting image of him. Also, Did you know that Bram Stoker's Dracula Character was based on Old Walt?
poems - five stars

Democratic Vistas - 3.5 stars

Specimen Days - five stars for the Civil War medic bits, four stars for the rest
I know that he is one of the greats, but right now he is just not interesting to me. Im not in the right mindset for him.
Chris Watson
A bit pompous, a tendency to dumb down, but in places (and that's enough), just marvellous.
May 07, 2008 AC rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone that hasn't read Whitman progress
Apr 28, 2011 Tracy is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
luv it
I was first inspired to read this after seeing "Into the wild" The Chris McCandless story. I find poetry quite easy to read and follow. I enjoy the challenge this can bring to the so called modern consistency and format poetry can be now. I enjoyed the ideas and the vision behind his words and often felt relation to them which it what draws me further into the book.
Packed full of many more goodies than just Song of Myself. One of the only books I recommend reading the introduction. Quite the mind, especially given the times.

Do I contradict myself? Good, I contain multitudes.

Not objecting to special revelations, considering a curl of smoke or hair on the back of my hand just as curious as any revelation / lads ahold of fire engines and hook and ladder ropes no less to me than the gods of the antique wars.
Rob Manwaring
Aug 11, 2013 Rob Manwaring marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-hold
...just started this, although my version has a blue cover. Never read Whitman, and this seems like an oversight. Of course, all my knowledge of him comes from Dead Poets Society, and the interesting introduction by Van Doren includes the 'barbaric yawp' early on. Which is always handy. Having just read Caryl Phillips, will be interested to see how, or if, the poems look at identity and US slavery.
This is by far my favorite edition of Walt Whitmans poems. ...more
Sara Cervantes
what is left to be said? whitman tackles an enormous project and does so in a unique style which is exciting to read for those in love with language (and America). whether or not his experiment is successful is debatable, but it is an entirely engrossing (if not over the top) read.
Jeff Messerman
Perfect verse across the board. Nearly biblical in scope and execution. I revisit this daily.
Walt Whitman is what I read when I'm sad. He makes America seem so beautiful, life so simple.
Read parts of Whitman's work over several months' time - too much to absorb all at once. This copy belongs to the library, hope I can find a copy of my own.
Paige marked it as to-read
Jul 04, 2015
Jennifer marked it as to-read
Jun 30, 2015
Arshad Khan
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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 about Walt Whitman...
Leaves of Grass Song of Myself Poetry and Prose (Library of America) The Complete Poems Leaves of Grass: First and "Death-Bed" Editions (Barnes & Noble Classics)

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“A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is, any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.”
More quotes…