10. Leaves of Grass.

Full of life now, compact, visible,
I, forty years old the eighty-third year of The States,
To one a century hence, or any number of centuries hence,
To you yet unborn these, seeking you.

When you read these I that was visible am become invisible,
Now it is you, compact, visible, realizing my poems, seeking me,
Fancying how happy you were if I could be with you and become your comrade;
Be it as if I were with you. (Be not too certain but I am now with you.)

(“Full of Life Now”)

It’s Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday today! Suzanne and Chris are celebrating by rereading Leaves of Grass, the book of poetry that Whitman kept writing, revising, and expanding throughout his life. With its ecstatic rhythms, its vigorous celebration of the body and of freedom, and its dreams of collectivity through diversity, Whitman’s poetry can be compelling, even overwhelming. And even when the book doesn’t quite live up to our hopes and dreams, it offers a path beyond itself.

Show Notes.

Leaves of Grass. Also available for free on Project Gutenberg and, as an audiobook, on Librivox.

The Walt Whitman Archive also contains the complete text(s).

Some curious details about the first printing of Leaves of Grass.

The most famous section of Christopher Smart’s “Jubilate Agno”.

Walt Whitman reading “America”.

(Though there is some controversy about the authenticity of the recording.)

Mark Twain wrote on “The Whitman Controversy” (about Whitman’s alleged obscenity).

When Wilde Met Whitman.

Whitman Noir.

Some of the poems we quote:

Responses to Whitman:

Paul Hindemith set a requiem with When Lilacs Last in the Door-Yard Bloom’d.

Mark Doty reads Song of Myself (and more).

Next episode: The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

You can support The Spouter-Inn and gain a bunch of perks through Patreon.

Subscribe to The Spouter-Inn via Apple Podcasts | Overcast | Google Podcasts | Spotify | RSS.