An impressive feat of literary collation, the Library of Congress presents this exhibition on Walt Whitman, probably America's first superstar author, and Whitman's book of poetry, _Leaves of Grass_. Initially published in 1855, _Leaves of Grass_ contained 12 poems. Whitman continuously revised it until his death in 1892, when it contained 400 poems. The poet added new poems, renamed older ones, reworded lines, changed punctuation, and regrouped poems (through the 1881 edition), as well as inventing typography, and posing for frontispiece portraits wearing various styles of clothing and props. (front and back views of a cardboard butterfly that Whitman posed with in 1877 are included in the show). The exhibition traces this evolution of _Leaves of Grass_ and Whitman's life, as a poet and a person, from the first appearance of the lines "I am the poet of the body, And I am the poet of the soul" in a notebook dating 1847-1950s, to the final "Deathbed edition" of 1891-1892. A wealth of interesting biographical material on Whitman, his friends and associates, his work as a teacher, tending the wounded during the Civil War, and for the federal government, also appears in the exhibit.


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  • Social Studies > United States History

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