Dinner with Walt

all things Walt Whitman

Dinner with Walt - all things Walt Whitman

NPR Arcticle on Whitman and “Leaves of Grass,” July 4, 2014

Etch of Walt Whitman, copper printing plate. Circa 1890. Dinner withWalt collection.

Etching of Walt Whitman on copper printing plate. Circa 1890.  In the Dinner with Walt collection.

Although Whitman was selling copies of Leaves of Grass earlier, he being the  ‘poet of democracy’, officially released the very first edition of Leaves of Grass on July 4, 1855.

To celebrate this far-reaching momentous big bang in American literature, NPR published a vibrant article by Rowan Ricardo Phillips, On July 4, A Celebration of Walt Whitman’s Irreverent Hymnal.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the granddaddy of American poetry; the gray ghost; the big thumper; the barbarian’s text with its barbaric yawp; the nation’s first truly great mega biblion; the Kosmos; the Civil War witness; the seaside songbook; the irreverent hymnal; the book of the lover; the book of the loafer; the peacemaker; Leaves of Grass.

 

I highly encourage you to read the rest of the dazzling  article here.

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1855 Leaves of Grass!

I had an opportunity to visit the Library Company of Philadelphia in May. Among their many wonderful first-rate collections they own two copies of Whitman’s first edition of Leaves of Grass from 1855! This was my very first up close and personal view of this very special work of art!

1855 Leaves of Grass. Library Company of Philadelphia. May, 2014

1855 Leaves of Grass. Library Company of Philadelphia. May, 2014

But wait! If this isn’t awesome enough, it gets better! Just last week Christie’s sold an original 1855 Leaves of Grass. The pre-sale estimate was $100-150,000.  You might be surprised to learn what the record-setting final sale price was for this Holiest-of-Holy piece of art!?!

From the June 19, 2014 press release:

He may not be topping the best-seller list, but the great American poet and humanist Walt Whitman set a sales record Wednesday at Christie’s.

A first edition of “Leaves of Grass,” printed for the author, sold for $305,000. That was more than twice Christie’s estimate of $100,000 to $150,000, and it marked a world auction record for Whitman.

 

You can read the entire article about the Christie’s sale here.

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Whitman in the Redwoods!

Just returned from a trip to the redwood forests in California, those amazing forests are such a spiritually-magnificent place!

Of course I took along my Leaves of Grass, I always take Whitman’s advice, he said in the preface to the 1855 Leaves of Grass…

…read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life…

I want to share one my favorite images from this trip, reading in the redwoods. Look at how the light radiates off Leaves of Grass, Whitman was definitely with me in those redwoods!

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Walt Whitman Caricature

I’ve seen lots of great drawings of Whitman but this one by Charles Hefling is fantastic and wonderful! My friend Ed commissioned Dr. Hefling to create this caricature of Whitman.

The inspiration for this piece was the poem, Grand is the Seen, which appears in Leaves of Grass under the Good-bye My Fancy group of poems.

Grand is the seen, the light, to me — grand are the sky and stars,
Grand is the earth, and grand are lasting time and space,
And grand their laws, so multiform, puzzling, evolutionary;
But grander far the unseen soul of me, comprehending, endowing all those,
Lighting the light, the sky and stars, delving the earth, sailing the sea,
(What were all those, indeed, without thee, unseen soul? of what amount without thee?)
More evolutionary, vast, puzzling, O my soul!
More multiform far — more lasting thou than they.

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