Walt Whitman was the most innovative and influential poet of the nineteenth century. The self-proclaimed "American Bard," Whitman challenged his contemporaries to resist conforming to society and shocked them with his embrace of the sensual. But beneath his manifesto for social revolution lies a vigorous call for spiritual revolution as well.
This beautiful sampling of Whitman’s most important poetry from Leaves of Grass, and selections from his prose writings, offers a glimpse into the spiritual side of his most radical themes—love for country, love for others, and love of Self. Whitman seeks to tear down the belief that the spiritual resides only in the religious and embraces the idea that nothing is more divine than humankind, nothing greater than the individual soul.
Rich with passion, reverence, and wonder, this unique collection offers insight into Whitman’s quest for self-discovery, which involved an ongoing mystical experience of the world. Though seemingly personal, his verse speaks to universal harmony and universal love, optimism and joy, and celebrates the outwardly mundane details of life through words electrified with love and spirit.
Whitman’s collected poems and prose are not an object or icon to be gazed upon or revered but a transparency we look through to see ourselves with greater clarity, excitement, and meaning. They wake us up to our potential, to learning about and from ourselves…. To experience his writing is to experience ourselves more deeply….
—from the Preface by Gary David Comstock