Refreshing Books On Renewal And Rebirth: Leaves Of Grass

Spring is a celebration of life, nature, and beauty. Walt Whitman’s ‘Leaves of Grass’ is a springtime poetry read that celebrates the beauty of life and nature.

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When the thin, withered branch shakes off the brisk steel of winter, nature gives way to the abundance of spring. Spring in every symbolic sense of the word is the season of life, renewal, and rebirth. The vibrancy and vitality of spring are intrinsically tied to the budding cycle of nature and life which instills within us hope and regeneration in the natural cycle of life. In this next installment of Bookstr’s “Refreshing Books on Renewal and Rebirth,” we take an in-depth look at the way Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman embody life and nature.

Initially published in 1855, Whitman’s Leaves of Grass is regarded as one of America’s greatest poetry books ever written, leaving an unmatched legacy to this day. In this unparalleled collection, Whitman was concerned with the symbiotic relationship between life, specifically humanity, and nature. What stunned me the first time in reading Leaves of Grass was the way Whitman write with such somatic language. He is concerned with the body, and how it inhabits and exhibits humanity whilst communing within the natural world.

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What is clear upon reading Leaves of Grass is Whitman’s delight in body and sensual pleasure which is explicitly expressed through the celebration of his sense of self and its intimate relationship to nature. The speaker of the poems (the self—essentially Whitman’s idealized form) seems to be enlivened by just existing within nature, basking in the spirit and buoyancy of springtime. Above all, Whitman championed unrestrained freedom of the self which is represented through his intimate relationship with nature.

With the initial publication of Leaves of Grass, Whitman shocked his contemporary audience with such candid sensuality. But to today’s readers, Whitman is the father of the American free verse—singing to us an eternal song of nature and the self.

For more spring reads, take a look at our series here!

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