Synopses & Reviews
Whitman published his Leaves of Grass in 1855 and prepared eight other editions during the next thirty-five years. These incorporated completely new poems as well as extensive changes in those that had already appeared. The changes served to emphasize the prophetic strand in his poetry - Whitman as the exuberant champion of political and sexual emancipation. Francis Murphy has chosen to print the final 'death-bed' edition (1891-2) of Leaves of Grass, in accordance with a note of instruction left by the poet to his future editors. But earlier versions of many poems are also given in the notes so that the reader can follow Whitman's development. In addition, the 1855 version of one of his most important poems, Song of Myself, is given in full in an appendix. Whitman's early poems appear in another appendix, so that, apart from manuscript fragments left on his death, the present edition contains all of Whitman's known work.
"This is the unrestful, ungraspable poetry of the sheer present . . . Whitmans is the best poetry of this kind." D.H. Lawrence
In 1855 Walt Whitman published Leaves of Grass, the work that defined him as one of America's most influential voices and that he added to throughout his life. A collection of astonishing originality and intensity, it spoke of politics, sexual emancipation, and what it meant to be an American. From the joyful "Song of Myself" and "I Sing the Body Electric" to the elegiac "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd," Whitman's art fuses oratory, journalism, and song in a vivid celebration of humanity. Containing all Whitman's known poetic work, this edition reprints the final, or "deathbed," edition of Leaves of Grass (1891 &92). Earlier versions of many poems are also given, including the 1855 "Song of Myself."
Includes bibliographical references (p. -34) and indexes.
About the Author
Walt Whitman (1819 &1892) was born on Long Island and educated in Brooklyn, New York. He served as a printer's devil, journeyman compositor, itinerant schoolteacher, and newspaper editor.
Francis Murphy is professor emeritus of English at Smith College.