Leaves of Grass began as twelve poems, first published in 1855. Whitman rewrote the book for the rest of his life, adding more and more. When he died, the book had expanded to contain 383 poems. Whitman credited a Ralph Waldo Emerson essay calling for there to be a great American poet as his inspiration, and Emerson later sent him a glowing letter praising Leaves of Grass so highly that Whitman included it in later editions.
Key Aspects of Leaves of Grass
Whitman's poetry is unique in its cadence. Once one has come to recognize his style, it is unmistakable—open and ebullient, full of optimism and love for the world at large. He writes in free verse—while this is a...