Leaves of Grass is a poetry collection by the American poet Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Though the first edition was published in 1855, Whitman spent most of his professional life writing and re-writing Leaves of Grass, revising it multiple times until his death. This resulted in vastly different editions over four decades—the first a small book of twelve poems and the last a compilation of over 400.
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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:
In 1855, the first edition of Leaves of Grass appeared, consisting of twelve untitled poems and a preface outlining the author's poetics. An initial commercial failure, this volume was the first stage of a massive, lifelong enterprise. Six editions and some thirty-seven years later, Leaves of Grass would become one of the central works m the history of world poetry. This Vintage Books/The Library of America edition includes both the 1855 first edition in its exact, original form and the magnificent final edition of 1891-1892.
For the first time, the authoritative editions of works by major American novelists, poets, scholars, and essayists collected in the hardcover volumes of The Library of America are being published singly in a series of handsome paperback books. A distinguished writer has contributed an introduction for each volume, which also includes a chronology of the author's life and career, an essay on the text, and notes.
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