Regina's Reviews > Leaves of Grass

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
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Aug 09, 2011

really liked it

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Due to three different college classes, Whitman has been required reading on my desk for months. Thus, I took this excellent opportunity to try to finally spend some quality time with the man. I have spent the better part of a few months revisiting Whitman, sitting with his poetry for hours, trying to understand his universal appeal. I can can almost sympathize why people like him so much, he has very pretty words, I can see there's something to it, oh wait, I can almost understand and like him myself! And then suddenly, I'll come across a few lines that will negate all of the empathy I was just feeling, reverting my Whitman emotions to once again to utter repulsion. Thus, I think it will always be between Whitman and I, a love-hate relationship, doomed to constant misunderstandings. I think, left to my own devices, I might be able to reconcile myself to him, or more accurately, reconcile his writing to my taste. However, this is not the nature of literature or the world, and so I am constantly subjected to other people's eye-opening reviews of passages of Whitman that I would much rather ignore.

Overall, I think I have to say that I do understand Walt Whitman and his poetry (as much as one can). His meanings are not lost on me. I cannot say that I like him, and I cannot say that I like Leaves of Grass. But I will say that I love reading it. Whitman's ability with language is unreal, and I can appreciate Leaves of Grass and Song of Myself as an exploration, a searching for meaning. What I will not accept is the text as a statement of philosophy. So, should any critic believe this, he and I will never get along. Whitman's observations and personal expressions are uncanny, his ideals are remarkable and inspiring. However, his philosophy of life is unsupportable. Only the most selfish of persons could ever find happiness the way he has prescribed.
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