I’ve been enjoying listening to a librivox audio recording of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman – an American poet writing in the late 1800’s. Whitman kept adding to this collection throughout his lifetime: the final version had grown to some 400 poems in its final revision, shortly before his death.
The poems differ somewhat in style and tone: many are frankly sensuous, some are reflective – a few, insightful.
I have yet to finish listening to the entire collection, but here’s one of my favorite excerpts to date, from Canto 6 in Book 3:
A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we may see
and remark, and say Whose?
Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.
Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them,
It may be you are from old people, or from offspring taken soon out
of their mothers’ laps,
And here you are the mothers’ laps.