Every Moment of Light and Dark is a Miracle
Born today, May 31, 1819, Walt Whitman was America’s poet and the father of free verse. Friend, Mary Whitall Smith wrote, “You cannot really understand America without Walt Whitman, without Leaves of Grass… He has expressed that civilization, ‘up to date,’ as he would say, and no student of the philosophy of history can do without him.”
Ezra Pound called Whitman “America’s poet… He is America.”
The literary critic, Harold Bloom wrote, as the introduction for the 150th anniversary of Leaves of Grass:
“If you are American, then Walt Whitman is your imaginative father and mother, even if, like myself, you have never composed a line of verse. You can nominate a fair number of literary works as candidates for the secular Scripture of the United States. They might include Melville’s Moby-Dick, Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Emerson’s two series of Essays and The Conduct of Life. None of those, not even Emerson’s, are as central as the first edition of Leaves of Grass.”
Whitman spent his life writing, rewriting and revising Leaves of Grass. The final edition, his “Death Bed” edition, was completed in 1891 and published in 1892 just 2 months before his death.
A rare first edition of Leave of Grass sold at Christie’s auction in 2014 for $305,000, twice what was estimated it would sell for. The first edition was a small book of just 12 poems. The last was a compilation of over 400 poems.
If interested Gutenburg Press has made available this e-book, Leaves of Grass.