Thursday, September 16, 2010

Leaving Poems In The Glade: Leaves Of Grass Is A Perfect Book Of Poetry!

The Good: Lyrical style, Quality of thought, Organization
The Bad: Some dated poems
The Basics: The ultimate emotive collection of poems exploring the nature of humanity. Will enhance ANY reader who puts in the work!

In the giants of American poetics, Walt Whitman is the reigning Goliath and Leaves of Grass is the undefeatable bastion of language that endures from the artist.

9 out of 10 Americans can't stomach poetry and of the remaining ten percent perhaps one in a hundred will actually pick up a book of poetry outside of an academic setting and read it. Invariably, Leaves of Grass is one they get in college or experience. So, why should the rest of the population appreciate or want to read a book of poetry? And why Whitman's Leaves of Grass?

Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass represents the highest order of lyrical accomplishment in American English. If every single musical artist were required to read Leaves of Grass before penning their first lyrics, the radio waves would be devoid of the common, droll, meaningless songs that populate them now. That's the magic of Leaves of Grass; it is music. It takes a critical mind, intelligence beyond the ordinary to read something that is essentially musical. Unlike Finnegan's Wake or other experiments in the auditory, there is nothing artificial here; Whitman is saying something.

Leaves of Grass is the quintessential exploration of the relationship between humanity and nature. Perhaps even more, the poetic collection is the definition of man within nature. What it means to be a human, what the body is, what our place is in the world these things are explored with the open eyes of a child and combined with the reasoning of an adult. Reading Leaves of Grass is like opening yourself up to a second childhood, one where you're smart enough to see what's going on and understand it.

In fact, the only drawback of the poetic collection is that some of the poems are dated. There are specific references to the Civil War and some of Whitman's feelings of patriotism and belief in the Republic are hard to swallow whenever politics are so corrupted as they have been of late.

I've often called Leaves of Grass "socially acceptable Freudian exploration" and that's probably the most accurate description; a collection of poems that view the world with innocence and yet a sense of sexual awareness uncompromised by social mores.

For other books of poetry, please check out my review of The Complete Poems Of Audre Lorde!


For other books, please check out my index page!

© 2010, 2001 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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