Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Leaves of Grass

Finished Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. I read the final, 1892 edition, known as "the deathbed edition." Whitman was considered insane and obscene when he published the first edition of this book. Today he is considered our greatest American poet. I never studied Whitman in any literature classes. I was surprised by the many references to this book that appear in popular culture. I was unaware of them until I read the poems. I took my time, reading only about five pages a day. It was a long haul, but stepping back, now that I have finished, I can appreciate the work as a whole and its influence on the Beat Poets, Ginsberg in particular,

"I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the
meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price
bananas? Are you my Angel?"

- from "A Supermarket in California" by Allen Ginsberg

No comments: