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Leaves of Grass: The First (1855) Edition

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  2,231 Ratings  ·  191 Reviews
As Malcolm Cowley says in his introduction, the first edition of Leaves of Grass 'might be called the buried masterpiece of American writing', for it exhibits 'Whitman at his best, Whitman at his freshest in vision and boldest in language, Whitman transformed by a new experience.' Mr Cowley has taken the first edition from its narrow circulation among scholars, faithfully ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published July 10th 1961 by Penguin Classics (first published 1855)
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Roy Lotz
It is becoming increasingly trendy to chalk up success to practice and hard work. We have the famous 10,000 hours from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, and a similar theme from Joshua Foer’s Moonwalking with Einstein, just to name two examples. But it seems to me that some people were just born to do what they did, that no amount of practice could ever have produced something so fresh, original, new, and revolutionary.

Take Montaigne. He invented a new genre (the essay), pioneered a free and easy pro
Ben Winch
Jun 19, 2011 Ben Winch rated it it was amazing
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.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose?

I'm no expert on Walt Whitman, and given that this poem ('Song of Myself') has been celeb
Jul 29, 2007 Andrew rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Literary rapture. I don't know how else I could describe my first experience reading Leaves of Grass. It was pure literary rapture.

I highly recommend Leaves of Grass to everyone - especially those who still believe, or want to believe, in the basic goodness of the American Experiment.

Pick up the slim first edition (Whitman revised and expanded Leaves of Grass throughout his life. The final product, which is what is most often seen on bookshelves, is a bloated, redundant beast.

Read the whole t
Liz Janet
Jan 07, 2014 Liz Janet rated it liked it
Unlike many Americans, I was not introduced to Walt Whitman during my school years through English/Literature/Composition classes, but through a magnificent and beautiful film called Dead Poets Society. I fell in love with his poetry then, of course, not all of his poetry is shown, for the film speaks more of literature and its importance to human consciousnesses, rather than the different dead poets, but it did introduce me to "O Captain! My Captain!"(which is not in this collection, and I am ...more
Philip Cartwright
Feb 23, 2013 Philip Cartwright rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
First the pros:

Whitman's free verse is years ahead of its time. I kept having to remind myself that he published this work in 1855. Wordsworth had only been dead for five years, Tennyson and Browning were at the height of their powers and Longfellow was still churning them out. Whitman was an important moderniser.

His verse has tremendous energy. It crackles off the page and I was often swept giddily along by the blizzard of words. Plus, there are some truly striking images to be found. At its be
Peter Landau
Jun 09, 2013 Peter Landau rated it it was amazing
This is what I thought the Bible would be like before I read the Bible: overflowing with characters and stories, all told at a sprint, with a shout and such good will that a sour sport as myself could hardly relate. Maximist, generous to a fault, a word-drunk prophet -- the god of this bible is Walt Whitman, and he could care a whit if you find that absurd or egotistical. I haven't felt the rush, pull and command of an energetic poetry like this outside of "Follow the Leader" by Eric B. and Raki ...more
Il pregio di Whitman non risiede nell'arte della parola, della metrica o della struttura. Resta deluso e annoiato chi - leggendo in inglese - cerchi un canone o una ricercatezza lessicale nei suoi versi. Ha molto più valore sociale e sociologico, invece, la genuina meraviglia della sua poesia di scoperta del sé, disarmata e semplice al punto di diventare emblematica. All'inizio del '900 un'America pragmatica e manichea spesso criticò la sua naïveté, definendola inconsistente; alla fine del '900, ...more
Aug 28, 2011 Joseph rated it it was amazing
Perfection. I can't think of much more to say... It a book you get lost in the best possible way.
Oct 24, 2007 J.P. rated it really liked it
Another title I'm forever dipping into.

There are many editions of LEAVES; the 1892 'deathbed' edition (Whitman was knocking on Heaven's door when he was editing it) is one I've never been able to finish, mainly because it's just so. . .voluminous. Many poems for the ages there, but just as much dead wood, too, which always bogs me down.

This first, 1855 edition---this is my favorite. I call it the rock n' roll edition. Here, you'll find the poems---in their unadulterated, original versions---tha
Feb 12, 2015 janet rated it it was amazing
It is mind-blowing to think that he self-published this the same year Longfellow's the Song of Hiawatha came out. The voice is SO modern. If I keep rolling with his lists and moments of merge in his longer poems such as 'Song of Myself" or "I Sing the Body Electric, I am moved if not transported, but they are so hard to analyze. Shorter poems are easier to analyze. It was amazing to read this first draft - many critics say it was his best. I can't say but I love how he just keeps writing it thro ...more
Dec 14, 2008 Miriam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry

Sophia Park
Mar 15, 2011 Sophia Park rated it really liked it
Shelves: university
Whitman, man. Whitman.

I think you need to read LoG in an active place, like a busy cafe or over a few trips on the bus, where there's people to see, because otherwise you might not feel his point. He seems to seriously push a sense of interconnectedness, a pantheism; we are all immortal and part of a divine source by being members. In us originates beauty and love and all meaning, and so we are the prime examples.

Leaves of Grass is, in short, a very invigorating set of poems. You feel good read
Feb 24, 2016 Myles rated it it was amazing
You Felons on Trial in Courts

YOU felons on trial in courts;
You convicts in prison-cells—you sentenced assassins, chain’d and hand-cuff’d with iron;
Who am I, too, that I am not on trial, or in prison?
Me, ruthless and devilish as any, that my wrists are not chain’d with iron, or my ankles with iron?

You prostitutes flaunting over the trottoirs, or obscene in your rooms, 5
Who am I, that I should call you more obscene than myself?

O culpable!
I acknowledge—I exposé!
(O admirers! praise not me! c
Chin Jian xiong
Feb 14, 2013 Chin Jian xiong rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
My flesh is not a great poem.
But my tongue has bled ink and sparse verses.
My mind embraced the leaves, I loved the taste of bitter grass.
My mind embraced the songs, I silently mouthed a secret chant.
My mind sub vocalized, my mind tasted and chewed and was released.
Yet I have only tasted a thimble's worth.
Yet I have only tried a mere percentage.
I engorged myself on the words.
I consumed the banquet and fell to my knees.
I suffered the pangs and pains of ignorance.
I could not grasp the words in whol
Aug 20, 2009 Clay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, favorites
I'll be brief since so much has been written on this book.
Whitman writes in a stream of consciousness style that turns out to be a rainbow of introspection, mania, political insight and commentary on his times. In the end he has composed something that will resonate with humanity throughout the remainder of its existence.
Beautiful words about Human beings, at once both so personal to Whitman and strangely universal.

If I'm honest, I think that I read this thing too fast, this book and these poems deserve more attention than I was able to give it at this time.

But I am definitely going to read it again. And again.
Des Small
May 05, 2014 Des Small rated it it was amazing
Of all the great poets, Whitman is the one who most leaves the reader wanting less, and this first edition is as less as the Leaves of Grass ever got.

He broke the new wood; he unleashed the loose baggy monster school of American verse; and if he goes on a bit, very well then, he goes on a bit.
Apr 08, 2017 Miguel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whitman is wonderful. He deserves a more in-depth review that I can provide during the preparation for my comprehensive oral examination. However, I will say that the 1855 version of Leaves of Grass is a favorite of mine because of its brevity and the thematic unity. Whitman seems content to explore similar themes from various angles and unafraid to pick up threads comprehensively explored in earlier work. The 1855 version never stays too far from the (retroactively titled) "Song of Myself." But ...more
Mar 15, 2017 Maria rated it really liked it
[Chorus: Tegan and Sara]
Everything is awesome
Everything is cool when you're part of a team
Everything is awesome
When you’re living out a dream

[Bridge: Tegan and Sara]
Everything is better when we stick together
Side by side you and I are gonna win forever
Let's party forever
We’re the same, I’m like you, you're like me
We are working in harmony

[Chorus: Tegan and Sara]
Everything is awesome
Everything is cool when you're part of a team
Everything is awesome
When you’re living out a dream

[Verse 1: The Lonel
Jan 16, 2013 Lon rated it it was amazing
How do you put a frame around this cosmos called Leaves of Grass? I feel like a tailor taking measurements for a blue whale, or a taxonomist classifying the whole of life. The lines echo in my head, "Have you reckon'd a thousand acres much? have you reckon'd the earth much?"

Worthier readers than me have analyzed the various editions and cranked out their commentaries. Let me just say that Whitman's poems, taken together, provide a glimpse of divine union and omnipresence no less breathtaking in
May 20, 2015 billyskye rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I’m ashamed of how long it took me to read this relatively short volume in its entirety. Something about the amalgamation of repetitive and abstract verse had a soporific effect, and limited me to about ten pages per a sitting. Embarrassing. Yet, I’m tremendously glad that I stuck with the enterprise. All told, Leaves of Grass is an unquestionable masterpiece and central to the American identity. I cannot express in a short review how much I appreciated this stunning rebellion against the litera ...more
Apr 30, 2016 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, favorite, print, poetry
The 1855 deluxe edition is relatively short compared to the later revised editions and reflects the rare and obscure quality of the original. These poems are full of Whitman's original fire before he made revision after revision. These are not just poems, this is a philosophical treasure full of the simple thoughts from a simple but genius of a man. I adore the raw, honesty in which Whitman published this book of poems.

“I am larger, better than I thought; I did not know I held so much goodness.”
Bonnye Reed
Mar 15, 2015 Bonnye Reed rated it it was amazing
Shelves: keepers, favorites
XXX I had forgotten how much I love Walt Whitman. This copy of the first edition of Leaves of Grass has most of my favorite of his poems - if you have read or memorized from a later edition, much of the wording is different. Some of the poems have an entirely different slant - I prefer the original to those altered over time.... I treated myself to this and several other 'old favorites' when I got my income tax refund this year. Between the garden and Goodreads Giveaways I do not have the time I ...more
Shin Gaku
Oct 13, 2015 Shin Gaku rated it it was amazing
Shelves: all-time-best
This book changed my life. I learnt to accept everything from good things to bad things unconditionally by this classic. Whitman's poems are passionate and vigorous. He taught me the power of an individual. Nothing is as effective as this book to change my depressing heart.
Oct 19, 2011 melmarian marked it as timbunanku  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to melmarian by: Ndari
dapet buku fisiknya di periplus, only 35k ^^
I wish I would have read this when I was younger. Definitely a classic and worth every word, Walt Whitman is a voice for any age.
Oct 01, 2007 John rated it it was amazing
Whitman's voice is uniquely American. He is an optimist with a big heart...
Nov 16, 2016 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't understand how something written before the Civil War can feel so contemporary.
Absolutely timeless.
Jun 22, 2016 Hellen rated it did not like it
Shelves: own, poetry
Yikes, this was really not my cup of tea.
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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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“Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun.... there are millions of suns left,
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand.... nor look through the eyes of the dead.... nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself.”
“Agonies are one of my changes of garments.” 45 likes
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