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It's Whitman . . . wait, it's Mitchell . . . no, it's both
on January 9, 2002
As with so much of Stephen Mitchell's work, the most important thing is to know what it is before you buy it. It may be exactly what you want, or it may be just the opposite; there's usually not much room in between.
In the present case, Mitchell has done something that some readers might consider pretty hubristic and perhaps even sacrilegious: he has produced an edited version of Walt Whitman's great "Song of Myself" that corresponds to no published version whatsoever.
How? Well, he started with the original (1855) edition of the poem, and then considered _every single change_ Whitman ever made in the poem clear up to his death in 1892. If Mitchell thought the change improved the poem, he left it in; if not, not. The result, for obvious reasons, is a "Song of Myself" that Whitman himself never actually wrote.
That's _not_ necessarily a bad thing. I respect Mitchell's taste and judgment, and I happen to agree with him that some of Whitman's later alterations made the poem worse. In fact I think Mitchell's edition is extremely fine.
But some readers may be looking for a version of "Song of Myself" that reflects Whitman's taste and judgment rather than Mitchell's. So let the buyer be aware.
At any rate I share Mitchell's high estimation of this poem and I'm happy that he's published his edition of it. Whitman belongs with Emerson and Thoreau on a shortlist of great American sages; this single poem is a large part of the reason why.