Leaves of Grass.
Boston, Thayer and Eldridge, 1860-1861.
This, the first printing of the third edition, marks the greatest single leap in the evolution of the text, with more than 100 poems added to the original work. It includes the first appearance of the 'Calamus' sequence, considered by many to be Whitman's clearest expression in print of his views on homoerotic love.
'The edition is Whitman's most famous after the first and contains some of his greatest poems, including (using final titles) "Starting from Paumanok" and "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking." The first of these is a more literal rendering of the spiritual autobiography in "Song of Myself" (paumanok is the American Indian term for "fish-shaped," referring to Long Island). The second was originally titled "A Child's Reminiscence" in the volume (it had yet another title in an 1859 magazine publication) because it is a meditation on lost innocence as it is realized at midlife ("A man, yet by these tears a little boy again"). The poet comes to realize that the freedom celebrated in his first edition and in "Song of Myself" is not altogether consistent with a way of coping with life's essential imperfection and that the duty of the poet is thus to sing of Love and Death, the common denominators of such imperfection. In a real sense, this poem about a man in crisis at midlife also suggests the crisis of poetry, that is, the power of its romantic illusions to overcome completely the fear of death' (ANB).
Third edition, first printing; 8vo (20 x 14 cm); portrait frontispiece (Myerson Form 1 signed 'Schoff' in plate on irregularly shaped light-brown background), imprints of The Boston Stereotype Foundry and George C. Rand & Avery on copyright page, library stamp to contents page header, old library pocket to rear pastedown; publisher's dark reddish orange cloth (Myerson type D, BAL C), upper and lower panels blindstamped, spine blindstamped and lettered in gilt, cloth faded, joints and extremities rubbed, signatures a little loose but holding, internally browned with occasional spotting, a well-thumbed ex-library copy; iv, 5-456pp.
Myerson A2.3.a1; BAL 21397; Wells pp.7-9.
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