Abraham Lincoln read it with approval, but Emily Dickinson described its bold language and themes as "disgraceful." Ralph Waldo Emerson found it "the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet produced." Published at the author's expense on July 4, 1855, Leaves of Grass inaugurated a new voice and style into American letters and gave expression to an optimistic, bombastic vision that took the nation as its subject. Unlike many other editions of Leaves of Grass, which reproduce various short, early versions, this Modern Library Paperback Classics "Death-bed" edition presents everything Whitman wrote in its final form, and includes newly commissioned notes.
About the Author
Born in 1819 in Long Island, New York, Walt Whitman was a poet, essayist, and journalist best known for Leaves of Grass (first published in 1855) and the poems "Song of Myself " and "I Sing the Body Electric." In the early years of the Civil War, Whitman traveled to Washington, D.C., to search for his brother, who was reported missing in action. Whitman stayed in Washington and volunteered as an aide in the hospitals, tending to sick and wounded soldiers. One of the first American poets to gain international attention, Whitman died in 1862 in Camden, New Jersey.
William Carlos Williams (1883 1963), author of Paterson and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Pictures from Brueghel, is widely considered one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century. Also a short-story writer, novelist, essayist, and translator, he helped in a big way to establish modernism in America.
"Whitman's best poems have that permanent quality of being freshly painted, of not being dulled by the varnish of the years."