Friday, May 31, 2013

Happy birthday, Walt Whitman

It is the birthday of poet Walt Whitman (1819), whose first poetry collection, Leaves of Grass, was an immediate success, and became his best-known work, and also his lifelong project. Whitman published the first thin volume himself, setting the type for most of it and paying for the printing. The second edition was 384 pages. There were at least six editions, maybe as many as nine. (Scholars can't agree on the count.) At the end of his life, Whitman lay ill in bed still working on a new edition. He declared it "At last complete – after 33 y'rs of hacking at it, all times & moods of my life, fair weather & foul, all parts of the land, and peace & war, young & old."

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