Whitman: 150

Virginia Quarterly Review on Leaves of Grass 150 years later. The following from Diane Ackerman’s contribution:

Whitman really wrote only one poem, although he added to it throughout his life and sometimes made separate books of it. It was the great poem of being, the great epic of life in America in the 19th century, in the solar system, in the Milky Way, in the infinite reaches of space. He began with a microscopic eye focused on the beauty of the lowliest miracle, say a leaf of grass, and then stretched his mental eye out to the beauty of the farthest nebulae. An earth-ecstatic, he was not a churchgoer, but deeply religious. If there is no choired Heaven in his poems, there is also no death: “I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love, / If you want me again look for me under your bootsoles.” He taught his contemporaries and his latter-day children, such as Loren Eiseley, a new way of prayer.