Leaves of Grass: A Textual Variorum of the Printed Poems, 1855-1891 (3-Volume Set) (The collected writings of Walt Whitman)

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9780814710241: Leaves of Grass: A Textual Variorum of the Printed Poems, 1855-1891 (3-Volume Set) (The collected writings of Walt Whitman)

In response to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s call for the United States to have its own unique poetic voice, Walt Whitman rose to the challenge to create what would ultimately be his most profound work. Taking its title from the colloquial term “grass”, meaning a work of minor value, Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” is anything but that. Over his lifetime Whitman would continue to expand and revise his most famous work up until his death in 1892. The first edition contained just twelve poems, significantly smaller compared to the final “deathbed” edition, reproduced here, which included over 400. “Leaves of Grass” is unique for its celebration of the sensual pleasures of life in a time when such an attitude was considered immoral. A departure from a poetic tradition which relied on symbolism, allegory, and meditation on the religious and spiritual, “Leaves of Grass” instead focused on nature and the individual’s role in it. Initial reception of the work was quite controversial, but over time this collection of poetry has come to be acknowledged as one of the truly great American works of literature. This edition is printed on premium acid-free paper and includes an introduction by John Burroughs.

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From the Publisher:

One of the great innovative figures in American letters, Walt Whitman created a daringly new kind of poetry that became a major force in world literature. Leaves Of Grass is his one book. First published in 1855 with only twelve poems, it was greeted by Ralph Waldo Emerson as "the wonderful gift . . . the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed." Over the course of Whitman's life, the book reappeared in many versions, expanded and transformed as the author's experiences and the nation's history changed and grew. Whitman's ambition was to creates something uniquely American. In that he succeeded. His poems have been woven into the very fabric of the American character. From his solemn masterpieces "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" and "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" to the joyous freedom of "Song of Myself," "I Sing the Body Electric," and "Song of the Open Road," Whitman's work lives on, an inspiration to the poets of later generations.

From the Inside Flap:

The poetry of Walt Whitman is the cornerstone of modern American verse. He was America's first truly great poet and his influence is still evident today. The first edition of Whitman's "Leaves of Grass, published in 1855, was a revolutionary manifesto declaring America's independence from European cultural domination. His rhapsodic free verse broke radically with poetic, tradition: it was poetry about America, its democracy, its people, and its hopes. It was uniquely American without apology--brash, proud, optimistic, and filled with the bustling energy of the new and growing nation.
This collection brings together Whitman's greatest and most famous poems spanning the whole of his career. From the groundbreaking first edition of "Leaves of Grass are seven poems, including "Song of Myself" and "I Sing the Body Electric."
From later editions there are such masterpieces as "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking," and "I Hear America Singing." Also included is Whitman's great cycle of Civil War Poems, "Drum-Taps, which he wrote in the months when he was ministering to the wounded in battlefield hospitals. Concluding this collection is one of his last poems, "Good-bye My Fancy!"--his touching farewell to his muse, his life, and his readers.
More than one hundred years after his death, Walt Whitman's poetry has become part of the American heritage. It is a visionary which speaks as aptly to readers today as it will to future generations. As he says in "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," "others...look back on me because I look'd forward to them." Whitman's poetry is a link that connects all Americans--past, present, and future.
This book features a deluxe cover, ribbon marker, top stain, and decorative endpaper with a nameplate.

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Walt Whitman, Sculley Bradley (Editor), Harold W. Blodgett (Editor), William White (Editor)
Published by New York University Press (1980)
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