Leaves of Grass

By Walt Whitman

Words from the achiever

“Both Emerson and Thoreau, and in particular for myself, Whitman, the American transcendentalists, they went out into nature to find God. Their spirituality was in nature, even though Emerson was raised to be — and was — a preacher on the pulpit, he ended up going out into nature for direct, face-to-face communication with God, if you want to call all of this creation part of God. Thoreau, of course, did the same thing. And Whitman expressed the whole universe in his poetry and in his catalogues. And that was true in general, it almost defines what we call American romanticism, or American transcendentalism.”

About the book

The collected poems of the great bard of American democracy, whose work has influenced all American writing, and poetry all over the world. Whitman published the first slim edition of his poems under this title in 1855, but added to it throughout his life. This edition is the large final collection he made just months before his death.

It avails not, time nor place — distance avails not,
I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence,
Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt,
Just as any one of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd,
Just as you are refresh’d by the gladness of the river and the bright flow, I was refresh’d,
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift current, I stood yet was hurried,
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships and the thick-stemm’d pipes of steamboats, I look’d.

from “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.”