Walt Whitman, an American poet, essayist, and journalist, wrote of his own work that it was "an attempt to put a person," " a human being (myself, in the latter half of the nineteenth century, in America) freely, fully, and truly on record." Whitman was a humanist, combining both the perspectives of transcendentalism and realism into his poetry. Much of his work focuses on democracy, equality, and brotherhood. Additionally, Whitman's poetry is infused with spirituality, which he believed was strongly influenced by physical contact, lending hints of eroticism throughout "Leaves of Grass." The first edition of this classic collection of poetry appeared in 1855 and was written as an attempt to reach the common man with an American epic. Due to constant critical attention from poet John Greenleaf Whittier, author and abolitionist Thomas Wentworth Higginson, poet and critic Rufus Wilmot Griswold, Boston district attorney Oliver Stevens, and writer and critic William Michael Rossetti, Whitman continuously expanded and revised the work until his death in 1892.
Here, "Leaves of Grass" is presented in two volumes of Whitman's signature free-verse poetry celebrating America, nature, the common man, and spirituality. Volume 1 includes one of his most-loved poems, "Song of Myself," which is revered for representing Whitman's larger poetic vision. Volume 2 begins with "Drum-Taps," a chronicle of the bloody American Civil War, which had a lasting influence on Whitman's life and work. These two volumes are integral to poetry libraries and will be enjoyed by those who love poetry and Americana.