A collection of quintessentially American poems, the seminal work of one of the most influential writers of the nineteenth century.
Leaves of Grass is a collection of poems, the most famous of which is "Song of Myself"; however there are many others in the collection that display his poetic ability equally well, such as "I Sing the Body Electric", "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking", and his homage to the assassinated Abraham Lincoln, "O Captain! My Captain!"
The collection is notable for its delight in, and praise of, the senses. Where much previous poetry, especially English, relied on symbolism, allegory, and meditation on the religious and spiritual, Leaves of Grass exalted the body and the material world. Influenced by the Transcendentalist movement, itself an offshoot of (especially German) Romanticism, Whitman's poetry praises Nature and the individual human's role therein. However, Whitman does not diminish the role of the mind or the spirit; rather, he elevates the human form and the human mind, deeming both worthy of poetic praise.
This edition includes: -A concise introduction that gives readers important background information -A chronology of the author's life and work -A timeline of significant events that provides the book's historical context -An outline of key themes and plot points to help readers form their own interpretations -Detailed explanatory notes -Critical analysis, including contemporary and modern perspectives on the work -Discussion questions to promote lively classroom and book group interaction -A list of recommended related books and films to broaden the reader's experience
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Walt Whitman (1819-1892), arguably one of America's most influential and innovative poets, was born into a working-class family in West Hills, New York, and grew up in Brooklyn. His Leaves of Grass, from which "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer" comes, is considered one of the central volumes in the history of world poetry. While most other major writers of his time enjoyed a highly structured, classical education at private institutions, Whitman forged his own rough and informal curriculum, and his brief stint at teaching suggests that Whitman employed what were then progressive techniques -- encouraging students to think aloud rather than simply recite, and involving his students in educational games.