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Leaves of Grass: The Original 1855 Edition Paperback – September 3, 2009
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Whitman's poems catalog his transcendentalism-inspired view of... everything. From scenes across the world, with particular focus on America, to anecdotes of dying soldiers and copulating couples, Whitman emphasizes the interconnectedness of humanity and nature.
While Whitman's enthusiasm is infectious, he lacks brevity. He repeats his philosophy like a club over the head. The final product could've been cut in half and still have gotten across the message.
But darn if there aren't moments of beauty. Particularly in the later poems which were added in his later years, Whitman tempers his enthusiasm with more brief, succinct, thoughtful, and hopeful words in the face of impending death. And I think that is the best occasion for Whitman's leaves: when one needs comfort that there is indestructible purpose and beauty in every human's life.
It's extremely unfortunate that Amazon has combined the reviews for so many different editions of this and other books. While they may sell more books, it makes it very difficult for customers to find a good edition to buy, and it makes me much less likely to buy from Amazon in the future.
"The Dead Poet's Society" did an excellent job of capturing the emotion behind "Captain Oh My Captain", which has come to be one of Whitman's most famous and moving pieces of poetry. My favorite over time has become "To Think of Time."
To think of time—of all that retrospection!
To think of today, and the ages continued henceforward!
Have you guess’d you yourself would not continue?
Have you dreaded these earth-beetles?
Have you fear’d the future would be nothing to you?
Is today nothing? Is the beginningless past nothing?
If the future is nothing, they are just as surely nothing.
Although Whitman wrote of life, he also embraced the inevitable concept of death. The words above come form one of the many poignant stanzas from this great "death" poem that reminds us that there is no need to dread the inevitable and live.