Leaves of Grass Author:Walt Whitman In 1855 Whitman published at his own expense a volume of 12 poems, Leaves of Grass, which he had begun working on probably as early as 1847. It was criticized because of Whitman’s exaltation of the body and sexual love and also because of its innovation in verse form -- that is, the use of free verse in long rhythmical lines with a ... more »natural, “organic” structure.
Leaves of Grass is not to be read in a single sitting, nor a dozen; but the fact that it holds up under many readings over a period of years supports its position in American literature.
Its emphasis on unwashed democracy, the commonplace, the potential of America and its people is as much at home in our own century as it was in Whitman's.
In our time, the emphasis on potential can be seen in such successful political catch phrases as the New Deal, the New Frontier, or the Great Society, and in such tangible projects as space and sea exploration.
Whitman caught that positive enthusiasm and faith in the future which is so basic to the American character as it attempts realize life, liberty, and material comfort to a greater degree than any other citizenry in the history of man.« less