On This Bookish Day : March 26th-Walt Whitman Dies

Hello bookworms,

Welcome back to On This Bookish Day, where one day of the month I will honour an important literary date in history. I’ll tell you a little about the author and review one of their books.

So, on this bookish day:

March 26th-Walt Whitman Dies, 1892

Walt Whitman, the father of free verse. He was an American poet, essayist, and journalist. His work was considered very controversial for its time, especially Leaves of Grass, for the sexuality. Whitman’s most famous work Leaves of Grass, was supposed to be for the common person.

Walt Whitman started off by working in the print industry, but had difficulties finding work due to a fire in the printing and publishing district. Then he moved on to teaching intermittently, but ultimately decided it was not satisfying. He then decided to start up his own newspaper, called the Long Islander. He worked as the editor, distributer, publisher and even did home deliveries. After ten months, he sold the newspaper, then wrote a number of editorials for three newspapers in New York.

The first edition of Leaves of Grass was printed in June of 1855. Critics considered it to be trashy and obscene, to the point that after the second edition was already printed they considered not releasing. Once the Civil War started he continued to write poetry. He wrote of his experiences from the war, seeing mass amounts of amputations and wounded soldiers affected him quite deeply.

He suffered a paralytic stroke in 1873, but continued with his work. Whitman produced other copies of Leaves of Grass over the following years, in 1891 he finished his final edition nicknamed the deathbed edition. Afterwards he wrote “L. of G. at last complete—after 33 y’rs of hackling at it, all times & moods of my life, fair weather & foul, all parts of the land, and peace & war, young & old”. He died in 1892, he was 72.

A few random facts:

  • Walt Whitman volunteered as a nurse during the Civil War.
  • He paid for the first edition publication of Leaves of Grass.
  • He denied any one faith was more important than the others.

That was much longer than I was expecting, I thought there wouldn’t be that much information about him. Turns out there is a ton of stuff about him. If you guys are interested there is so much more to know about him, but I didn’t want this to be 17 pages long.

Leaves of Grass

★★★☆☆

So for this one I gave it three stars, and I found it really hard to pick a rating for this one. It’s a collection of poetry so I can’t say anything about plot or characters. But I can talk about writing style.

I completely understand why his writing was considered for the common American. This was probably the easiest poetry I have read so far. Then again I have barely scratched the surface of the poetry genre. It seemed to be written mostly like a narrative, not abstract at all, which I can appreciate. I especially liked his descriptions of nature and the outdoors in general. He has a way to paint a very beautiful picture, so vivid.

So that all being said, this wasn’t an amazing collection for me. I could appreciate the writing, and I understand why this is a classic. But the poems were long….Very, very long. I just don’t think I can concentrate on a poem that long; the first poem was around 60 pages. For a person who doesn’t even like 20 page chapters in a novel, that’s just too much. They also seemed to be divided up a little weirdly for me. Within the poem they seemed to be split up into numbered sections, it seemed like they would have been individual poems. They seemed to jump around a bit in subject matter, but yet they were all the same poem. So I found it a little confusing, but maybe I just don’t know enough about poetry at this point.

I would recommend this for people to try out. It is very different from the more modern poetry I have read so far, but still very accessible. It’s a classic, and it’s quick, so give it a try. Have you guys read this yet or is there more classic poetry I need to try?

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