On Leaves of Grass

Another test post—I’m using Ulysses, now, to see how it would publish a blog post directly from the iPad. Did this work?

Walt Whitman

At 41, or so.

This test post features a photo of Walt Whitman, when he was just a few years older than I am now. Starting out 2023, I finally read the 1855 version of “Leaves of Grass,” which has been long on my to-read pile, after coming across some commentary on it in Jesse Ball’s “Autoportrait”—Ball talked about how the 1855 version of “Leaves” was one of the books he’s obsessed with. It seemed as good a time as any to pluck the old red, white and blue Barnes & Noble classic edition from my bedroom shelf.

I’d read a lot of Whitman here and there, but “Leaves” was really astonishing in many ways—not just for its frankness, but its incredible range of empathy, vision, and poetic thought. I kept pulling out quotes and saving them to my notes. Stuff so good you’d want it to be read at your funeral. How on earth did Whitman get away with writing this stuff at the time?

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