Piece Comment

Review of Walt Whitman: Song of Myself

An engraved invitation to read Whitman. For that reason alone this piece deserves praise and airtime. Even more deserved so because it is well produced, polished in sound, and wise in content.

That said, I do wish it made some distinction between the first edition and the deathbed edition of Leaves of Grass. The "death bed" edition is the edition most widely available. However, the first edition (available in a reprint from Penguin) offers more magic per word and a greater emotional velocity. It is that edition which more clearly connects to transcendentalism. It is that edition whose 150th anniversary is upon us.

Also, by distinguishing between the two termination points of his work -- its first publication, and then its final -- it puts poetry into contemporary and immediate utility. How? That it evolved over time suggests how our lives can be poetry because our journals can be poetry.

Whitman kept public this journal of his. It is a model for us, as inspiration for those of us who came into this world long after his body's departure.