Whitman's Leaves of Grass
Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass
leaves of grass by walt whitman

Walt Whitman - the poet - leaves of grass
  About Walt Whitman's poetry
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    It is commonly held today that "modern" American poetry began with Walt Whitman. His poetry embodies what it means to be quintessentially American in a way no poet had been able to do before. Neither teaching, printing, nor journalism excited Whitmanís real passion and in his mid-thirties he began writing the work for which he would become best-known: his massive "Leaves of Grass." Like many great works, Leaves of Grass was not welcomed with the open arms one might expect. But either Whitman took the bad reviews to heart or simply was personally dissatisfied with the work, for he continued to revise and expand it for the entire rest of his life, publishing a total of nine different editions of it between 1855 and 1892 -- the year he died. 
    Today we recognize "Leaves of Grass" as Whitmanís masterpiece, backed up by an impressive body of work that firmly ensconces him as Americaís most important poet. He lived during an extremely pivotal period in our nationís history -- the Civil War -- and even as he volunteered in army hospitals tending the wounded, his poetry extols a nation undivided. Walt Whitman created not only a new kind of American poetry: it could be said he actually created American poetry. Prior to him, Americans had tried to write poetry on English and European models; subsequently, Americans felt confident that they could -- and should -- replicate their own distinctive voice in a distinctively American idiom. In whatever way we read him, Walt Whitman seems to represent for us the essence of the American spirit.

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