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Alone on the Beach at Night

3.19  ·  Rating details ·  728 ratings  ·  90 reviews
'All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages...'

A selection taken from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass

Introducing Little Black Classics: 80 books for Penguin's 80th birthday. Little Black Classics celebrate the huge range and diversity of Penguin Classics, with books from around the world and across many centuries. They take us from a balloon ride over
Paperback, Little Black Classics #10, 55 pages
Published February 26th 2015 by Penguin Classics
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What am I myself but one of your meteors?


Vol 10 of my Penguin Little Black Classics Box Set. It contains selections from Walt Whitman's famous collection of poems, Leaves of Grass, specifically:

Birds of Passage:
- Song of the Universal
- Pioneers! Oh Pioneers!
- To You
- France, the 18th Year of These States
- Myself and Mine
- Year of Meteors (1859-1860)

- A Broadway Pageant

Sea Drift:
- Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking
- As I Ebb'd with the Ocean Life
- Tears
- To the Man-of-War Bird
- Aboard at Ship's
Leonard Gaya
Oct 25, 2019 rated it liked it
This slim volume contains two sections (“Birds of Passage” and “Sea-Drift”) plucked from the middle of Leaves of Grass. I must confess that the actual meaning of some of these poems went way over my head. However, the feeling that emerges from reading them is as clear as day. Whitman conveys a sense of uplifted splendour — sometimes borderline annoyingly grandiloquent — at the contemplation of the New World as a new Eden of cosmic proportions, where people from all over the world gather together ...more
Michelle Curie
"None have understood you, but I understand you; None have done justice to you—you have not done justice to yourself..."

This Little Black Classic was another one that provided me with an overview of an author whose work I have not had the pleasure of reading yet. After finishing this, there are two things I am certain about: Walt Whitman likes his anaphoras and we'll probably cross paths again in the future.

This collection of poetry features an excerpt from the 19th-century American poet's
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
Just kill me now.

This is one book I didn’t want to review. I’ve been avoiding this thing, this monster, for months. I just don’t get along with Whitman anymore. This edition is essentially random verses from Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and perhaps that’s the problem. The verses are taken out of their respective contexts and shoved in here. So not only do we have obscure and, well let’s just face it, weird poetry, but we also having it not making any sense with the rest of the poems. But I don’t
Apr 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Favorite poem : Patroling Barnegat

Favorite quotes :

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem
(page 11)

But that before all my arrogant poems the real Me stands
yet untouch'd, untold, altogether unreach'd

(page 41)

Personally, I liked the poems about nature more than the patriotic ones about America, but they were overall interesting and nice enough.
Read all my reviews on

This one wasn't for me. I had of course heard of the author, but had never read anything by him. Based on this collection, a selection from Leaves of Grass, I don't think I will either.

With the Little Black Classics you never know up front what to expect, there have been some very nice surprises so far, but also some that disappointed, like this one. I didn't like Whitman's style and most likely won't be picking up more of his work.

Hayder Hasan
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
2.7 stars
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
I am so bad at reading poetry, but I want to learn. I liked this and all the different ways he talked about the sea and the beach, my favourite places to be.
Jan 26, 2017 rated it liked it
The selection of the poems felt very disjointed and I did not understand everything and felt some parts were very boring, but there were one or two poems that really touched me. It was a really strange feeling for someone who hardly reads/likes any poetry. And I'm not even sure WHY I liked the parts I liked and why I disliked the ones I disliked.

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem;
I whisper with my lips close to your ear,
I have loved many women and men, but I love
He's my favorite poet... That's my review. That's it! ...more
Not the Whitman poems I would chose, especially considering part of the purpose of these books is to give people a taste of a writer.
Feb 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I've never liked Whitman and still don't, really, but his exuberance, despite its grating dramatics, is sometimes compelling, like the sea calling to the sea within.
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
The first part of this short collection is dedicated to the American pioneers and its optimistic views have kind of a bitter aftertaste when read in the 21st century.

The second part is dedicated to nature and man's relationship with nature, and it's definitely more engaging (my favourite one was "As I ebb'd with the ocean of life"), and yet it's pregnant with a symbolism that can get slightly sickly here and there.
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
First thing I'm going to say - I am not a poetry buff. I've read a handful of poets, old and new worldy, and most times failed to engage. Rilke is my go-to poet; the only poet so far whose poetry resonates with me. But I persist in my search for further poetry to enchant - thus how I came to read this introduction to Walt Whitman's writing. Though I did connect with some of the poems (Pioneers!, To You, World Below the Brine), others didn't resonate. However, there are many beautiful lines ...more
Feb 10, 2018 added it
Shelves: poetry
Whitman's poetry always sounds beautiful even when I'm not really sure what he's on about.
Anna F.
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
The poems are great but the selection seemed so random (most of them, specially towards the end are to some extend related to the sea but still it all felt kind of disjointed).
Katherine Potvin
Never been a huge fan of Whitman. The poems drone. While the writing is beautiful, I felt no emotion from his work.
Joey Woolfardis
Apr 08, 2015 rated it did not like it
19th Century Walt Whitman was an American writer and poet notable for his realist works and is considered one of the forerunners of free verse. His most notable works include the poetry Leaves of Grass and his novel Franklin Evans.

Walt Whitman's poetry is unlike any other Victorian poetry I have read. I assume it is because he is American, but I saw no lyrical prowess, and my heart was not set aflame by any words. I am fairly new to loving poetry, but these poems, or lyrical sentences as I feel
Marnie Ava
Apr 09, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: books-i-own
Whitman;s style of writing really isn't for me, the style of the poetry is long and lengthy meaning that it tends to have no rhythm and is just a long string of thoughts and ideas. I find there is no fluency or poetic elegance to his writing. Although the descriptions, similes and euphemisms he uses are beautiful, i think they would be put to better use inside a novella or novel.
Mar 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sold-r
My favourite is 'to you'.

'The mockeries are not you,
Underneath them and within them I see you lurk,
I pursue you where no one else has pursued you,
Silence, the desk, the flippant expression, the night, the accustom'd routine, if these conceal you from others or from yourself, they do not conceal you from me...
Jul 07, 2016 rated it did not like it
No. Just no. I'm sure it was grand at the time, but it's more like political or nationalistic exclamations than art. Whitman doesn't age well. After I got to a reference to "semen of centuries" (page 19), I couldn't take it anymore.
Jun 28, 2015 added it
Shelves: 2015
A mixed bag.
The first half was mainly dedicated to how amazing and brave the first American pioneers were which was a bit "eh" to read.
I really enjoyed the poems To You and Alone on the Beach at Night though.
Liz Janet
Dec 20, 2015 rated it did not like it
Mar 10, 2017 rated it liked it
When did you first meet your soul?

> Birds Of Passage

· Song Of The Universal


You know - as when you first met your soul - what Whitman is about, the stream he swims in, from the very first words:

"Enclosed and safe within its central heart, Nestles the seed perfection."

The poem title is evocative of the pool of soul with which we are all conjoined, ours each alone a tributary of that universal being. We know the wistfulness of the imagery of the Birds of Passage as a symbol of our
I’m not a big fan of Whitman’s but when I read the “complete” Leaves of Grass poetry collection I at least felt like I understood it. This was confusing, a seemingly strange selection of poems and some of them so full of maritime metaphors that I got confused. I think most of the poems are transcendental/spiritual/religious in theme and nature but for the most part I was just confused and felt like it went over my head. I would need a study guide on Whitman to make sense of it.

Also this initial
Oct 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-in-2018
3 1\2 stars.

'Whoever you are, I fear you are walking the walk if dreams'

The first Whitman I've read and a nice little introduction to the poet. His words and concepts are beautiful, particularly those that look inward and explore nature and the human spirit in tandem.

I always feel with poetry as though I am looking for some sense of recognition in the words and although I found the more political stuff a bit heavy going the poems that contained vivid descriptions, lengthy metaphors and more
Alicia Larsson
Sep 17, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: tbr-2019
Alone on the beach at night had two main themes. The first being patriotism, love for his home country, war and so on and the second theme, nature, the beach and ocean. I liked some poems to an extent but as a whole it did not sit right with me. I prefer the second part to the first, his descriptions of nature are quite beautiful. My favorite poem was "Patroling Barnegat" just because there is something dark about it in my mind. Some poems also seamed a bit misplaced. This collection might be ...more
Lucy Weaver
May 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
I'm just going to keep it short, poetry is generally not my thing, there are some that I like, but they tend to be more contemporary. I prefer ones that have a story embedded in it, a narrative.

However, I was surprised to find myself enjoying a few of the poems in the book. However, the archaic structure at times, as well as language and grammar, did make it tough at times.

Ultimately, I acknowledge this probably isn't the book for me and while I did enjoy some of the poems in here, none of them
Laura Raud
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
“...O baffled, balk’d, bent to the very earth,

Oppress’d with myself that I have dared to open my mouth,

Aware now that amid all that blab whose echoes recoil upon me I have not once had the least idea who or what I am,

But that before all my arrogant poems the real Me stands yet untouch’d, untold, altogether unreach’d,

Withdrawn far, mocking me with mock-congratulatory signs and bows,

With peals of distant ironical laughter at every word I have written,

Pointing in silence to these songs, and
Franzen Vive
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The poems in this selection have tuneful and memorable endings. The rhymes and stanzas echo into your ears. I have found a favourite poem here. Walt Whitman's poems do have a certain personality. In fact, some of the poems I read here evokes different course of action: marching, commanding, imploring, reflecting, emphatizing. This is a perfect reading companion especially when you are alone on the beach at night. ...more
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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