Mj's Reviews > Leaves of Grass: The "Death-Bed" Edition

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
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's review
Feb 27, 10

bookshelves: books-i-d-keep-on-my-shelf
Read in February, 2010

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-putting. And I did put it off 'til 2008...and 2009. And even then, throughout the year I only read around 150 pages. Not that I didn't like it, but I just felt that I didn't have the quality time to give it that it deserved.

So, finally, 2010. I decided the first thing I'd try to do is finish Leaves of Grass. And I did. It took until the first week of February. It took Whitman 37 years to write- after the first edition was published in 1855 he kept adding to it and publishing new editions until 1892. Reading it is like being a witness to the poet's 37-year-long spiritual awakening. Parts of it can get tedious, and parts are very inspiring and exciting. You run into parts that seem familiar because they get quoted so much. The book is so ambitious- it trys to say everything there is to say about life all at once, and keeps trying and trying- and never takes anything back. I think it was well worth the effort to read, and will be good to spend time with in the future.

"Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop'd, I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell."

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