The Portable Walt Whitman

Edited by Michael Warner
Paperback
$22.00 US
5.15"W x 7.7"H x 1.35"D  
On sale Dec 30, 2003 | 608 Pages | 978-0-14-243768-1
| Grades 9-12 + AP/IB

A comprehensive collection of Whitman's most beloved works of poetry, prose, and short stories

When Walt Whitman self-published Leaves of Grass in 1855 it was a slim volume of twelve poems and he was a journalist and poet from Long Island, little-known but full of ambition and poetic fire. To give a new voice to the new nation shaken by civil war, he spent his entire life revising and adding to the work, but his initial act of bravado in answering Ralph Waldo Emerson's call for a national poet has made Whitman the quintessential American writer. This rich cross-section of his work includes poems from throughout Whitman's lifetime as published on his deathbed edition of 1891, short stories, his prefaces to the many editions of Leaves of Grass, and a variety of prose selections, including Democratic Vistas, Specimen Days, and Slang in America.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


Walt Whitman was born on May 31, 1819, near Huntington, Long Island, New York. His father--a farmer turned carpenter from whom Whitman acquired his freethinking intellectual and political attitudes--moved his wife and nine children to Brooklyn in 1823. The young Whitman attended public schools until the age of eleven, when he was apprenticed to a printer. In 1835 he became a journeyman printer and spent the next decade working as a compositor, freelance writer, editor, and itinerant schoolteacher. But Whitman's fortunes changed in 1846 when he was named editor of the Brooklyn Eagle. However his 'free soil' political beliefs cost him the editorship of the conservative paper two years later. Following his dismissal, Whitman traveled to New Orleans, where he was briefly editor of the New Orleans Crescent. Upon his return north in June 1848, he frequented the opera and museums, dabbled in politics, and immersed himself in the life of the streets. Although Whitman had earlier affected the mien of a dandy, he now dressed as a 'rough' and became prominent among the bohemian element of New York. But the poems and stories he published in these years showed no hint of his future greatness.

The next five years (1850-1855), while outwardly undramatic, proved to be the most important period--intellectually and spiritually--in the life of Walt Whitman the poet. During this time he read avidly and kept a series of notebooks. Two novels by Georges Sand helped fix the direction of Whitman's thinking. One was The Countess of Rudolstadt, which featured a wandering bard and prophet who expounded the new religion of Humanity. The other was The Journeyman Joiner, the story of a proletarian philosopher who works as a carpenter with his father but also devotes time to reading, giving advice on art, and freely sharing the affection of friends. But of course it was Ralph Waldo Emerson's summons (in 'The Poet') for a great American muse to step forward and celebrate the emerging nation that was pivotal to Whitman's future. On July 4, 1855, the first edition of Leaves of Grass, the volume of poems that for the next four decades would become his life's work, was placed on sale. Although some critics treated the volume as a joke and others were outraged by its unprecedented mixture of mysticism and earthiness, the book attracted the attention of some of the finest literary intelligences. 'I greet you at the beginning of a great career,' Emerson wrote to Whitman. 'I find incomparable things said incomparably well.'

The Civil War found Whitman working as an unofficial nurse to Northern and Southern soldiers in the army hospitals of Washington, D.C. His war poems appeared in Drum-Taps (1865) and were later incorporated into Leaves of Grass--as was 'When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom,' his elegy to the recently assassinated President Lincoln. After the war he became a clerk in the Indian Bureau of the Department of the Interior, from which he was shortly dismissed on the grounds that Leaves of Grass was an immoral book. (Whitman was soon reinstated in another government clerkship with the Department of Justice.) Despite such notoriety, his poetry slowly achieved a wide readership in America and in England, where he was praised by Swinburne and Tennyson. (D. H. Lawrence later referred to Whitman as the 'greatest modern poet,' and 'the greatest of Americans.'

Whitman suffered a stroke in 1873 and was forced to retire to Camden, New Jersey, where he would spend the last twenty years of his life. There he continued to write poetry, and in 1881 the seventh edition of Leaves of Grass was published to generally favorable reviews. However, the book was soon banned in Boston on the grounds that it was 'obscene literature.' Whitman was in a precarious financial way in his remaining years, and such writers as Mark Twain, Henry James, and Robert Louis Stevenson contributed to his support. Rich admirers kept him supplied with oysters and champagne (he was fond of both). Whitman even received a visitation from Oscar Wilde, who later reported that 'the good gray poet' made no effort to conceal his homosexuality from him. ('The kiss of Walt Whitman,' Wilde said, 'is still on my lips')

In January 1892 the final 'Death-bed Edition' of Leaves of Grass appeared on sale, and Whitman's life's work was complete. He died two months later on the evening of March 26, 1892, and was buried four days afterward at Harleigh Cemetery in Camden. 'Most of the great poets are impersonal,' Whitman once wrote of Leaves of Grass. 'I am personal. . . . In my poems, all revolves around, concentrates in, radiates from myself. I have but one central figure, the general human personality typified in myself. But my book compels, absolutely necessitates, every reader to transpose himself or herself into the central position, and become the living fountain, actor, experiencer himself or herself, of every page, every aspiration, every line.' View titles by Walt Whitman
The Portable Walt WhitmanIntroduction

Poems From Leaves Of Grass
(dates indicate first book publication)

1855:
Song of Myself
A Song for Occupations
To Think of Time
The Sleepers
I Sing the Body Electric
Faces
There Was a Child Went Forth
Who Learns My Lesson Complete?

1856:
Unfolded Out of the Folds
Song of the Broad-Axe
To You
This Compost
Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
Song of the Open Road
A Woman Waits for Me
To a Foil'd European Revolutionaire
Spontaneous Me
A Song of the Rolling Earth

1860:
Starting from Paumanok
From Pent-up Aching Rivers
Me Imperturbe
I Hear America Singing
As I Ebb'd with the Ocean of Life
You Felons on Trial in Courts
The World below the Brine
I Sit and Look Out
All Is Truth
Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking
Native Moments
Once I Pass'd through a Populous City
Once I Pass'd through a Populous City (draft version)
Facing West from California's Shores
As Adam Early in the Morning
Live Oak, with Moss
I. (Not Heat Flames up and Consumes)
II. (I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing)
III. (When I Heard at the Close of the Day)
IV. (This Moment Yearning and Thoughtful)
V. (Calamus 8: "Long I thought that knowledge alone would suffice me")
VI. (What Think You I Take My Pen in Hand?)
VII. (Recorders Ages Hence!)
VIII. (Calamus 9: "Hours continuing long, sore and heavy-hearted")
IX. (I Dreamed in a Dream)
X. (O You Whom I Often and Silently Come)
XI. (Earth! My Likeness)
XXI. (To a Western Boy)

Calamus:
In Paths Untrodden
Scented Herbage of My Breast
Whoever You Are Holding Me Now in Hand
For You O Democracy
These I Singing in Spring
Of the Terrible Doubt of Appearances
The Base of All Metaphysics (added 1871)
Are You the New Person Drawn toward Me?
Roots and Leaves Themselves Alone
Of Him I Love Day and Night
City of Orgies
To a Stranger
I Hear It Was Charged Against Me
We Two Boys Together Clinging
Here The Frailest Leaves of Me
A Glimpse
Sometimes with One I Love
Among the Multitude
That Shadow My Likeness
Full of Life Now

To Him That Was Crucified
To a Common Prostitute
To You
Mannahatta
A Hand-Mirror
Visor'd
As if a Phantom Caress'd Me
So Long!

1865-66:
Drum-Taps (1865) and Sequel to Drum-Taps (1865-66):
Shut Not Your Doors
Beat! Beat! Drums!
City of Ships
Cavalry Crossing a Ford
Bivouac on a Mountain Side
An Army Corps on the March (1865-66)
By the Bivouac's Fitful Flame
Come Up from the Fields Father
Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night
A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest, and the Road Unknown
A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim
As Toilsome I Wander'd Virginia's Woods
The Wound-Dresser
When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer
A Farm Picture
Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun
To a Certain Civilian
Years of the Modern
Over the Carnage Rose Prophetic a Voice
As I Lay with My Head in Your Lap Camerado (1865-66)
Out of the Rolling Ocean the Crowd
I Saw Old General at Bay
Look Down Fair Moon
Reconciliation (1865-66)
When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd (1865-66)
O Captain! My Captain! (1865-66)
Old War-Dreams (1865-66)
Chanting the Square Deific (1865-66)
I Heard You Solemn-Sweet Pipes of the Organ (1865-66)

1867:
One's Self I Sing
The Runner
When I Read the Book

1871:
Passage to India
Proud Music of the Storm
A Noiseless Patient Spider
The Last Invocation
On the Beach at Night
Sparkles from the Wheel
Gods
Joy, Shipmate, Joy!
Ethiopia Saluting the Colors

1872:
The Mystic Trumpeter

1876:
Prayer of Columbus
To a Locomotive in Winter
The Ox-Tamer

1881:
The Dalliance of the Eagles
A Clear Midnight

1888:
As I Sit Writing Here
Broadway

1891:
Unseen Buds
Good-bye My Fancy!

PROSE WRITINGS
"The Child's Champion"
Prefaces and Afterwords from Leaves of Grass:
Preface to "Leaves of Grass", 1855
Letter to Ralph Waldo Emerson, from "Leaves of Grass", 1856
Preface to "As a Strong Bird on Pinions Free," 1872
Preface to the Centennial Edition of "Leaves of Grass", 1876
"A Backward Glance O'er Travel'd Roads," 1888
"Democratic Vistas"
From Specimen Days
"Slang in America"

Suggestions for Further Reading
Index of Titles and First Lines

About

A comprehensive collection of Whitman's most beloved works of poetry, prose, and short stories

When Walt Whitman self-published Leaves of Grass in 1855 it was a slim volume of twelve poems and he was a journalist and poet from Long Island, little-known but full of ambition and poetic fire. To give a new voice to the new nation shaken by civil war, he spent his entire life revising and adding to the work, but his initial act of bravado in answering Ralph Waldo Emerson's call for a national poet has made Whitman the quintessential American writer. This rich cross-section of his work includes poems from throughout Whitman's lifetime as published on his deathbed edition of 1891, short stories, his prefaces to the many editions of Leaves of Grass, and a variety of prose selections, including Democratic Vistas, Specimen Days, and Slang in America.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Author


Walt Whitman was born on May 31, 1819, near Huntington, Long Island, New York. His father--a farmer turned carpenter from whom Whitman acquired his freethinking intellectual and political attitudes--moved his wife and nine children to Brooklyn in 1823. The young Whitman attended public schools until the age of eleven, when he was apprenticed to a printer. In 1835 he became a journeyman printer and spent the next decade working as a compositor, freelance writer, editor, and itinerant schoolteacher. But Whitman's fortunes changed in 1846 when he was named editor of the Brooklyn Eagle. However his 'free soil' political beliefs cost him the editorship of the conservative paper two years later. Following his dismissal, Whitman traveled to New Orleans, where he was briefly editor of the New Orleans Crescent. Upon his return north in June 1848, he frequented the opera and museums, dabbled in politics, and immersed himself in the life of the streets. Although Whitman had earlier affected the mien of a dandy, he now dressed as a 'rough' and became prominent among the bohemian element of New York. But the poems and stories he published in these years showed no hint of his future greatness.

The next five years (1850-1855), while outwardly undramatic, proved to be the most important period--intellectually and spiritually--in the life of Walt Whitman the poet. During this time he read avidly and kept a series of notebooks. Two novels by Georges Sand helped fix the direction of Whitman's thinking. One was The Countess of Rudolstadt, which featured a wandering bard and prophet who expounded the new religion of Humanity. The other was The Journeyman Joiner, the story of a proletarian philosopher who works as a carpenter with his father but also devotes time to reading, giving advice on art, and freely sharing the affection of friends. But of course it was Ralph Waldo Emerson's summons (in 'The Poet') for a great American muse to step forward and celebrate the emerging nation that was pivotal to Whitman's future. On July 4, 1855, the first edition of Leaves of Grass, the volume of poems that for the next four decades would become his life's work, was placed on sale. Although some critics treated the volume as a joke and others were outraged by its unprecedented mixture of mysticism and earthiness, the book attracted the attention of some of the finest literary intelligences. 'I greet you at the beginning of a great career,' Emerson wrote to Whitman. 'I find incomparable things said incomparably well.'

The Civil War found Whitman working as an unofficial nurse to Northern and Southern soldiers in the army hospitals of Washington, D.C. His war poems appeared in Drum-Taps (1865) and were later incorporated into Leaves of Grass--as was 'When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom,' his elegy to the recently assassinated President Lincoln. After the war he became a clerk in the Indian Bureau of the Department of the Interior, from which he was shortly dismissed on the grounds that Leaves of Grass was an immoral book. (Whitman was soon reinstated in another government clerkship with the Department of Justice.) Despite such notoriety, his poetry slowly achieved a wide readership in America and in England, where he was praised by Swinburne and Tennyson. (D. H. Lawrence later referred to Whitman as the 'greatest modern poet,' and 'the greatest of Americans.'

Whitman suffered a stroke in 1873 and was forced to retire to Camden, New Jersey, where he would spend the last twenty years of his life. There he continued to write poetry, and in 1881 the seventh edition of Leaves of Grass was published to generally favorable reviews. However, the book was soon banned in Boston on the grounds that it was 'obscene literature.' Whitman was in a precarious financial way in his remaining years, and such writers as Mark Twain, Henry James, and Robert Louis Stevenson contributed to his support. Rich admirers kept him supplied with oysters and champagne (he was fond of both). Whitman even received a visitation from Oscar Wilde, who later reported that 'the good gray poet' made no effort to conceal his homosexuality from him. ('The kiss of Walt Whitman,' Wilde said, 'is still on my lips')

In January 1892 the final 'Death-bed Edition' of Leaves of Grass appeared on sale, and Whitman's life's work was complete. He died two months later on the evening of March 26, 1892, and was buried four days afterward at Harleigh Cemetery in Camden. 'Most of the great poets are impersonal,' Whitman once wrote of Leaves of Grass. 'I am personal. . . . In my poems, all revolves around, concentrates in, radiates from myself. I have but one central figure, the general human personality typified in myself. But my book compels, absolutely necessitates, every reader to transpose himself or herself into the central position, and become the living fountain, actor, experiencer himself or herself, of every page, every aspiration, every line.' View titles by Walt Whitman

Table of Contents

The Portable Walt WhitmanIntroduction

Poems From Leaves Of Grass
(dates indicate first book publication)

1855:
Song of Myself
A Song for Occupations
To Think of Time
The Sleepers
I Sing the Body Electric
Faces
There Was a Child Went Forth
Who Learns My Lesson Complete?

1856:
Unfolded Out of the Folds
Song of the Broad-Axe
To You
This Compost
Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
Song of the Open Road
A Woman Waits for Me
To a Foil'd European Revolutionaire
Spontaneous Me
A Song of the Rolling Earth

1860:
Starting from Paumanok
From Pent-up Aching Rivers
Me Imperturbe
I Hear America Singing
As I Ebb'd with the Ocean of Life
You Felons on Trial in Courts
The World below the Brine
I Sit and Look Out
All Is Truth
Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking
Native Moments
Once I Pass'd through a Populous City
Once I Pass'd through a Populous City (draft version)
Facing West from California's Shores
As Adam Early in the Morning
Live Oak, with Moss
I. (Not Heat Flames up and Consumes)
II. (I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing)
III. (When I Heard at the Close of the Day)
IV. (This Moment Yearning and Thoughtful)
V. (Calamus 8: "Long I thought that knowledge alone would suffice me")
VI. (What Think You I Take My Pen in Hand?)
VII. (Recorders Ages Hence!)
VIII. (Calamus 9: "Hours continuing long, sore and heavy-hearted")
IX. (I Dreamed in a Dream)
X. (O You Whom I Often and Silently Come)
XI. (Earth! My Likeness)
XXI. (To a Western Boy)

Calamus:
In Paths Untrodden
Scented Herbage of My Breast
Whoever You Are Holding Me Now in Hand
For You O Democracy
These I Singing in Spring
Of the Terrible Doubt of Appearances
The Base of All Metaphysics (added 1871)
Are You the New Person Drawn toward Me?
Roots and Leaves Themselves Alone
Of Him I Love Day and Night
City of Orgies
To a Stranger
I Hear It Was Charged Against Me
We Two Boys Together Clinging
Here The Frailest Leaves of Me
A Glimpse
Sometimes with One I Love
Among the Multitude
That Shadow My Likeness
Full of Life Now

To Him That Was Crucified
To a Common Prostitute
To You
Mannahatta
A Hand-Mirror
Visor'd
As if a Phantom Caress'd Me
So Long!

1865-66:
Drum-Taps (1865) and Sequel to Drum-Taps (1865-66):
Shut Not Your Doors
Beat! Beat! Drums!
City of Ships
Cavalry Crossing a Ford
Bivouac on a Mountain Side
An Army Corps on the March (1865-66)
By the Bivouac's Fitful Flame
Come Up from the Fields Father
Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night
A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest, and the Road Unknown
A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim
As Toilsome I Wander'd Virginia's Woods
The Wound-Dresser
When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer
A Farm Picture
Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun
To a Certain Civilian
Years of the Modern
Over the Carnage Rose Prophetic a Voice
As I Lay with My Head in Your Lap Camerado (1865-66)
Out of the Rolling Ocean the Crowd
I Saw Old General at Bay
Look Down Fair Moon
Reconciliation (1865-66)
When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd (1865-66)
O Captain! My Captain! (1865-66)
Old War-Dreams (1865-66)
Chanting the Square Deific (1865-66)
I Heard You Solemn-Sweet Pipes of the Organ (1865-66)

1867:
One's Self I Sing
The Runner
When I Read the Book

1871:
Passage to India
Proud Music of the Storm
A Noiseless Patient Spider
The Last Invocation
On the Beach at Night
Sparkles from the Wheel
Gods
Joy, Shipmate, Joy!
Ethiopia Saluting the Colors

1872:
The Mystic Trumpeter

1876:
Prayer of Columbus
To a Locomotive in Winter
The Ox-Tamer

1881:
The Dalliance of the Eagles
A Clear Midnight

1888:
As I Sit Writing Here
Broadway

1891:
Unseen Buds
Good-bye My Fancy!

PROSE WRITINGS
"The Child's Champion"
Prefaces and Afterwords from Leaves of Grass:
Preface to "Leaves of Grass", 1855
Letter to Ralph Waldo Emerson, from "Leaves of Grass", 1856
Preface to "As a Strong Bird on Pinions Free," 1872
Preface to the Centennial Edition of "Leaves of Grass", 1876
"A Backward Glance O'er Travel'd Roads," 1888
"Democratic Vistas"
From Specimen Days
"Slang in America"

Suggestions for Further Reading
Index of Titles and First Lines

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