Synopses & Reviews
Abraham Lincoln read it with approval, but Emily Dickinson described its bold language and themes as "disgraceful." And Ralph Waldo Emerson found Leaves of Grass "the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed," calling it a "combination of the Bhagavad Gita and the New York Herald." Published at the author's own expense on July 4, 1855, Leaves of Grass initially consisted of a preface, twelve untitled poems in free verse (including the work later titled "Song of Myself," which Malcolm Cowley called "one of the great poems of modern times"), and a now-famous portrait of a devil-may-care Walt Whitman in a workman's shirt. Over the next four decades, Whitman continually expanded and revised the book as he took on the role of a workingman's bard who championed American nationalism, political democracy, contemporary progress, and unashamed sex. This volume, which contains 383 poems, is the final "Deathbed Edition," which was published in 1892.
From one of America's best loved and most important poets comes what is considered by many to be the greatest collection of poetry ever produced by an American.
About the Author
Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was born in Westhills, Long Island, and acquired his education in Brooklyn, New York. At thirteen he learned typesetting, and two years later he taught a country school. He contributed to the Democratic Review before he was twenty-one. At thirty he traveled through the Western States, spending one year in New Orleans editing a newspaper. Returning home, he took up carpentry and building, which he followed for a while. During the War of the Rebellion, he spent most of his time in the hospitals and camps, in the relief of sick and disabled soldiers. In 1856, Walt published a volume entitled Leaves of Grass. This volume showed unquestionable power and great originality, and it is considered one of the central volumes in the history of world poetry. Walt continually expanded and revised the book over the course of much of his lifetime. His labors among the sick and wounded made great impressions; these took form in his mind and were published under the title Drum Taps. Walt's poems lack much of the standard of recognized poetic measure. He has a style that is peculiar to himself, and his writings are full of meaning, beauty, and interest. Mel Foster has narrated over 150 audiobooks and has won several awards. Twice an Audie finalist for 1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History by Charles Bracelen Flood and Finding God in Unexpected Places by Philip Yancey, he won for the latter title. He has also won several AudioFile Earphones Awards. Best known for mysteries, Mel has also narrated classic authors such as Thoreau, Nabokov, and Whitman.