WALT WHITMAN'S LEAVES OF GRASS by Malcolm- Ed. Cowley

WALT WHITMAN'S LEAVES OF GRASS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The well-known critic and co-editor of the New Republic, has here resurrected Whitman's masterpiece, Leaves of Grass, in its original and pristine form, as first published in 1885. It consisted then of twelve untitled poems, the first later called Song of Myself, and a long rambling prose introduction by Whitman. By the time of the last or ""Deathbed"" edition, Leaves of Grass consisted of 383 poems, many of which had been basically changed, but Mr. Cowley maintains not for the better. Whitman's introduction had disappeared. In his interesting and provocative introduction, Cowley states that Song of Myself is Whitman's greatest work, perhaps his one completely realized work and one of the great poems of modern times. The other eleven, while not on the same level, are samples of Whitman's boldest and freshest style. He feels that the original first poem was the result of a mystical experience, an absorption into God comparable to the Indian state of Samadhi, which opened Whitman to his sense of all-embracing brotherhood without his having read deeply in Oriental literature. This is a valuable piece of literary research and criticism. It is important to have Whitman's buried masterpiece to compare with subsequent editions.

Pub Date: Dec. 28th, 1959
Publisher: Viking