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Review of Leaves of Grass (1867)


My other item relates to one of whose merits as an author opinions differ widely. I refer to Walt Whitman, who has just published another edition of his much criticised and remarkable book, "Leaves of Grass." This last volume contains the original poems, with "Drum Taps," and some twenty others, later and fresher. The poet has returned to the practice of three centuries since and publishes his own works. This unique and original book can be obtained by addressing the author here and enclosing three dollars. The present edition is prefaced with the following "Inscription," which, as it gives a glimpse of the philosophy of these poems, and is moreover brief, I quote:

"Small is the theme of the following chaunt, yet the greatest—namely, ONE'S SELF—that wondrous thing, a simple, seperate person. That, that for the use of the New World, I sing.

"Man's physiology complete from top to toe, I sing. Not physiognomy alone, nor brain alone is worthy of the muse—I say the form is worthier far. The female form equally with the male, I sing Nor cease at the theme of One's Self. I speak the word of the modern, the word EN MASSE.

"My days I sing, and the lands, with interstice I knew of hapless war.

"O friend, whoe'er you are, at last arriving here to commence, I feel through every leaf the pressure of your hand, which I return. And thus upon our journey link'd together let us go."

The arrangement of this new volume will be attractive to those who have seen the old. In connection with the "Good Gray Poet," I am glad to mention that the author of that eloquent defence of Mr. Whitman against Mr. Harlan's proscription, is quietly resuming his place among the literati of the day. Mr. O'Connor will delight the readers of the Galaxy with some charming stories. Those who remember "The Ghost Story" in Putnam, "What Cheer" in Harpers', and his rich and affluent romance of "Harrington," will be grateful for this announcement. Mr. O'Connor is reported as preparing a literary lecture, which, if true, will be a great treat for those who listen. There is no young author and scholar so eminently adapted to that field as the one of whom I write.



1. The Massachusetts Weekly Spy was published in Worcester. On page 1 is a "Letter from Washington" signed by "Observer." That letter is divided into several sections, the first couple having to do with the troubles in Baltimore, where there are fears of a new civil war breaking out, followed by an item on Clara Barton, praising her "devotion to the sick and wounded of our armies," and noting she is about to embark on a lecture tour. Then comes the section called "WALT WHITMAN." [back]

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