Walt Whitman's poetry collection Leaves of Grass is a compilation of his poems. Whitman spent the most of his professional life working and rewriting Leaves of Grass, modifying it several times until his death. The final version was published in 1855 by Whitman himself.
Leaves of Grass is an early example of a modernist work, with its themes including democracy, equality, and freedom. It also contains some of the first uses of many now-common words and phrases, such as "atomize" (to break down into elements) and "monomaniac" (pertaining to one mind or thought).
Whitman wrote about anything and everything that came into his mind, creating a unique and original style that has influenced many poets since then. He also experimented with different forms of poetry, including sonnets, villanelles, and ballads.
Leaves of Grass received mixed reviews when it was first published. Some critics panned it for being too experimental and failing to satisfy any traditional definition of poetry. Others praised it for its revolutionary ideas on art and liberty. However, it soon became popular with readers, leading Whitman to publish further works including Song of Myself and Drums Along the River.
Walt Whitman was an American poet whose poem collection "Leaves of Grass" is regarded as a watershed moment in the history of American literature. He is often called the father of modern poetry because of his innovative use of free verse, his emphasis on the individual's moral responsibility for society, and his celebration of the common man.
Whitman was born on May 31, 1819 in West Hills, New York, the third child of John Whitman and Naomi Mack. His parents were farmers who could not afford to raise their children in comfort so they raised livestock and grew crops on small plots of land that they owned or rented. When Walt was nine years old, the family moved to a larger farm in West Camden, South Carolina but this one also had little money left after paying off debts from the previous house. Because there was no public school system in South Carolina at the time, Walt had to quit school when he was 12 years old to help support the family by working as a farm hand.
At age 20, while working as a editor for a newspaper in New York City, he met Elizabeth Cooper. They fell in love and got married on September 1, 1846. However, only three months later, on December 31, 1846, she died giving birth to their first son, Thomas Jefferson.
The title is a play on words, as "grass" was a term used by publishers for low-value works, and "leaves" is another name for the pages on which they were written. Whitman had known the printing shop of two Scottish immigrants, James and Andrew Rome, in Brooklyn since the 1840s, and the first edition was issued there.
Whitman wanted to express the unity of his poems, so he called them "Leaves of Grass." He explained his choice by saying that "a bundle of leaves from a tree makes a grass, and a bunch of grasses are called a field. Thus my poem is meant to be a contribution to literature, making the whole world kin."
This explanation comes from a letter that Whitman wrote to help an aspiring young poet named George Willis Brush get some money for books he needed to publish. The letter was printed in several newspapers across America when the first edition of Leaves of Grass came out, and it made the book more popular than ever before.
Brush had sent Whitman a manuscript filled with poems, but the publisher didn't like any of them. So, thinking about how fields contain seeds that can grow into new plants, Whitman wrote back to Brushes explaining that he was trying to do something similar with these poems, and that together they would make up a new plant that would one day grow into a forest.
Whitman added the title "Poem of Walt Whitman, an American" to the second edition of Leaves of Grass, which was published in 1856. This title recalls Section 24 of the poem, where he defines himself as "Walt Whitman, an American, one of the roughs, a kosmos." So far as we know, no other poet has made reference to themselves as a kosmos - a term that means "world soul" or "all-embracing principle" and is used by some philosophers and theologians to describe the animating force behind nature.
Whitman may have chosen this title because he believed that his poems were worthy of being considered as natural objects like trees or plants. They had been called "Leaves from Heaven" in their original publication, and this phrase can be found in the first line of Section 14 of Poem of Walt Whitman, An: "Flowering grass, growing all over America, / Growing for me particularly, / As I pass by, growing for me."
Furthermore, "Grass" is one of Whitman's favorite words, and many of his poems begin with it. So by calling his collection of poems Leaves of Grass, Whitman was saying that these were objects worthy of being classed with flowers and trees.
He also wanted people to understand that his poems were meant to be read as wholes, and not just single lines.
Whitman made adjustments and editions to Leaves of Grass until his death in 1892, thus it was published several times. This essay was the inspiration for E.M. Forester's 1924 novel, A Passage to India. A section from Walt Whitman's "Passage to India" depicts a hypothetical voyage into mythical India that the speaker wishes to take. This passage is often quoted by those who consider themselves travelers.
I'm going to Indian River—to find if Indians still exist there, and if they do, how to communicate with them. I've read that their ancient customs can be inferred from some remains on the beach. But perhaps even more interesting than what has been discovered about them through archaeology is what has been imagined about them by poets from all over the world. The imagination is powerful and imaginative people have always wanted to know more about others than this short life allows. They have dreamed dreams that will never come true and hoped for things that never were. Some of these dreams and hopes have become real through history: Indian tribes that existed long before Columbus ever set foot in America are now known to have spoken languages related to Hindi. Through communication barriers, they may not have realized it but they had friends in Europe and America who wanted to help them.
In April 1608, a few months after the first ship arrived in Boston Harbor, another vessel called at the same port. This one was captained by Robert Juet and its purpose was to search out and kill Indians.