While taking a break at work today I was looking at a few blades of grass noticing the variations in hue related to angle and the way light struck them and that reminded me of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and the different angles from which Whitman viewed life.
Grass is one among countless things we take for granted, yet I believe as Whitman did that it is no less a miracle than a star.
I’m not sure when I first read Walt Whitman’s Leaves of grass.
A tattered paperback edition came into my possession when I was a kid and I admit even though it was over my head there were verses that captured my attention and I believe not only compelled me to think but to imagine a great many things.
In today’s politically correct world Leaves of Grass contains passages that undoubtedly would rile a few just as it did during Whitman’s time – but inspite of that banning or burning books has a tainted history and I’m somewhat surprised a modern politically correct editing hasn’t taken place as it has among other books – I suspect such efforts loom on the not to distant horizon when the simplest approach would be if you don’t like a book don’t read it.
From childhood to adulthood I’ve kept this book and have either browsed through or reread it in it’s entirety a number of times.
What strikes me the most is Whitman’s mastery of words, the skill with which he weaves them together and ultimately draws the reader in.
It was a different time when first written and it underwent numerous revisions and updates, more than a book or prose it strikes me in many ways as being somewhat autobiographical – a sort of soul baring and a take it or leave it warts and all.
A book if you haven’t read you should.
“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.”
“re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body”.
“To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every cubic foot of the interior swarms with the same;
Every spear of grass–the frames, limbs, organs, of men and women, and all that concerns them,
All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.
To me the sea is a continual miracle;
The fishes that swim–the rocks–the motion of the waves–the ships, with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?”
― Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass