Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Leaves of Grass

Alex Gildzen reminds me in an email that it is 150 years since Walt Whitman published the first edition of Leaves of Grass. I salute its sesqui-centenary.

What a marvellous evolution the book went through over the subsequent years from this beginning, these initial twelve untitled & anonymous poems. & the 1855 edition has a long preface that sets out what has, for me, always been the beacon for the pure side of the duality with which I regard the U.S.
"The American bards shall be marked for generosity and affection and for encouraging competitors....They shall be kosmos...without monopoly and secresy...glad to pass any thing to any one...hungry for equal night and day. They shall not be careful of riches and privilege....they shall be riches and privilege....they shall perceive who the most affluent man is. The most affluent man is he that confronts all the shows he sees by equivalents out of the stronger wealth of himself. The American bard shall delineate no class of persons nor one or two out of the strata of interests nor love most nor truth most nor the soul most nor the body most....and not be for the eastern states more than the western or the northern states more than the southern."

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