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Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1855

The 1855 edition was the first incarnation of Walt Whitman's life-work. In successive editions of Leaves of Grass, revised constantly until his death in 1892, the poet articulated his very personal response to upheavals in the public and private spheres of ante- and post-bellum America.

I SING the Body electric;
The armies of those I love engirth me, and I engirth them;
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the Soul.

Walt Whitmanm

Walt Whitmanm, frontispiece (detail) of Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1855 [c.58.g.4]. Copyright © The British Library Board


Privately published by Whitman's friends, the Rome brothers, and lauded by fellow 'Transcendentalists' including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Whitman paid close attention to the appearance of the text, employing a bold, free typographic layout.



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