Leaves of Grass (2nd edition)
Leaves of Grass (2nd edition)

Leaves of Grass (2nd edition)

Walt Whitman; Peter Riley
  • Showcases Whitman's response in real time to the catastrophic years of the American Civil War and its aftermath - a response that saw him write some of the most innovative and influentual poetry of the last two hundred years
  • Reproduces the first printed iteration of each poem, showcasing how Whitman restlessly manipulated so many aspects of his writing
  • Includes many of Whitman's most famous poems, such as 'Song of Myself', 'I Sing the Body Electric', and 'O Captain! My Captain!'

New to this Edition:

  • By reproducing the first printed iteration of each poem, this edition often presents their most politically and sometimes sexually daring version
  • The introduction offers an up-to-date account of the latest Whitman discoveries and scholarship

'I spring from the pages into your arms'

Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass stands as one of the most influential and innovative literary works of the last two hundred years. Widely credited as the originator of free verse in English, Whitman abandoned the rules of traditional poetry—breaking the standard metred line, discarding the obligatory rhyming scheme, and using the emerging American vernacular with the formal precedents of the past while adopting the vernacular rhythms of his emergent American democracy. Most currently available texts reproduce the poetry from the "Deathbed" edition of Leaves, first published in 1892. Often obscured by the near-ubiquitous reprinting of this final edition, however, is the elaborate fluidity and daring of the various previous editions of Leaves. After the book's initial publication in June 1855, Whitman revised and expanded the project a further seven times, with subsequent editions appearing in 1856, 1860, 1867, 1870-71, 1876, 1881-82, and at intervals until 1891-92. His revisions to particular poems were often substantial, and the addition of new poems to each successive edition so extensive, that the book's dimensions altered dramatically.
This edition introduces Whitman's ongoing labour of revision and renewal—his successive responses to the shattering years that encompassed the American Civil War and its aftermath. Beginning with the first edition of 1855, it moves chronologically, selecting and including the most substantial poems and "clusters" as Whitman first included them. In most cases, the present edition reprints the often more politically and sexually daring beginning, rather than the revised "end" of a particular poem's journey. It thereby provides a portrait of a poet who feverishly attempted to reshape his project in tandem with some of the most tumultuous decades in American history, and who in the process radically revised the parameters and possibilities of poetry itself.


Note on the Text
Select Bibliography
A Chronology of Walt Whitman

Leaves of Grass (1856)
Leaves of Grass (1860-61)
Drum-Taps. (1865)
Sequel to Drum-Taps (1865-1866)
Leaves of Grass (1867)
Leaves of Grass (1871-72)
Passage to India. (1871)
As a Strong Bird on Pinions Free. (1872)
Leaves of Grass (1876) [Centennial or Author's Edition]
Leaves of Grass (1881)
November Boughs (1888) [Sands at Seventy]
Leaves of Grass (1891-92)

Appendix A: Selected Prefaces, Appendices, and Afterwords from Leaves of Grass
Appendix B: "Song of Myself" from Leaves of Grass (1891-92)


Walt Whitman
Edited by Peter Riley, University of Exeter
Peter Riley is Senior Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century American Literature at the University of Exeter. He is the author of Against Vocation: Whitman. Melville, Crane, and the Labors of American Poetry (Oxford University Press, 2019) and Strandings: Confessions of a Whale Scavenger (2022), which won the Ideas Prize for non-fiction. He organised the International Walt Whitman Week in 2016 and has served as faculty for it twice.


ISBN : 9780192894441

Walt Whitman; Peter Riley
496 ページ
196 x 129 mm
Oxford World's Classics





Leaves of Grass (2nd edition)

Leaves of Grass (2nd edition)

Leaves of Grass (2nd edition)