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Literature / Leaves of Grass

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I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey work of the stars.
— "Song of Myself"

Leaves of Grass is a collection of poetry by American author Walt Whitman.

Many editions of Leaves of Grass exist, as Whitman revised it many times before his death. The original version was published in 1855, then a revised edition in 1856, then another in 1860, then ANOTHER in 1867, 1881, 1881, 1889, and 1891.

Poems from Leaves of Grass you might recognize:

  • "Song of Myself"
  • "I Sing the Body Electric"
  • "I Hear America Singing"
  • "O Captain! My Captain!"

This volume provides examples of:

  • In Harmony with Nature: Large parts of "Song of Myself" are about the narrator realizing that everything is interconnected, and about him getting in tune with nature.
  • Mind Screw: Some of it.
  • The Power of Language: "To the Sayers of Words" takes a Treachery of Images approach to language, exploring the relationship between the word and that which it represents.
    Were you thinking that those were the words—
    those upright lines? those curves, angles, dots?
    No, those are not the words—the substantial words
    are in the ground and sea,
    They are in the air—they are in you.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: The narrator in "Song of Myself" expresses awe at the mundane things of the world, including a leaf of grass, an ant, a grazing cow, and a mouse.
    I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars,
    And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren,
    And the tree-toad is a chef-d’œuvre for the highest,
    And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven,
    And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery,
    And the cow crunching with depress’d head surpasses any statue,
    And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels.