When Walt Whitman self-published "Leaves of Grass" in 1855 it was a slim volume of twelve poems and he was a journalist and poet from Long Island, little-known but full of ambition and poetic fire. To give a new voice to the new nation shaken by civil war, he spent his entire life revising and adding to the work, but his initial act of bravado in answering Ralph Waldo Emerson's call for a national poet has made Whitman the quintessential American writer. This rich cross-section of his work includes poems from throughout Whitman's lifetime as published on his deathbed edition of 1891, short stories, his prefaces to the many editions of "Leaves of Grass," and a variety of prose selections, including "Democratic Vistas, Specimen Days," and "Slang in America.
About the Author
Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was an American poet, journalist, and essayist most remembered for his rejection of poetic form restrictions and writing in free verse. Some of his other writings include Franklin Evans and Democratic Vistas.
Michael Warner is professor of English at Rulgers University. His most recent works include American Sermons: The Pilgrims to Martin Luther King, and his essays and journalism have appeared in the Village Voice, the Nation, and other magazines.