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Extended Audio Sample Leaves of Grass Audiobook, by Walt Whitman Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (37,394 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Walt Whitman Narrator: Mel Foster Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2010 ISBN: 9781400188055
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Abraham Lincoln read it with approval, but Emily Dickinson described its bold language and themes as “disgraceful.” Ralph Waldo Emerson found Leaves of Grass “the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed,” calling it a “combination of the Bhagavad Gita and the New York Herald.” Published at the author’s own expense on July 4, 1855, Leaves of Grass initially consisted of a preface, twelve untitled poems in free verse (including the work later titled “Song of Myself,” which Malcolm Cowley called “one of the great poems of modern times”), and a now-famous portrait of a devil-may-care Walt Whitman in a workman’s shirt. Over the next four decades, Whitman continually expanded and revised the book as he took on the role of a workingman’s bard who championed American nationalism, political democracy, contemporary progress, and unashamed sex.

This volume, which contains 383 poems, is the final “Deathbed Edition,” which was published in 1892.

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Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy Drew | 2/20/2014

    " "song of myself." need I say more? "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Colleen | 2/14/2014

    " sometimes extremely repetative and seems like he just likes to list things. If it was not for the exert in the beginning I am not sure I would have understood much of what he was writing. I feel like just as i was starting to understand the poem and where he was going, it took a different turn and then i was lost all over again. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amanda | 2/9/2014

    " Comfort food reading. One of those books that I'm often picking up just to read a few pages, a few dozen or only a passage. Enlightening and nourishing for the soul. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deborah | 2/8/2014

    " Walt has been with me all my life. I notice the tiniest things in nature because of him. My view of democracy was shaped by him. He always addressed his readers, and that makes me smile. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erik | 2/8/2014

    " the only book that could ever give Ginsberg's Howl a run for its money. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephanie | 2/4/2014

    " How could any human not be completely enamored with this? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Patrick Cowsill | 1/31/2014

    " My sister gave me this at our grandma's funeral. What I learned from this book: some of the poems can be read endlessly. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristin | 1/29/2014

    " a perfect risk. after days of reading it on the floor in a bookstore, i knew i had to have it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elena | 1/28/2014

    " que mejor poesia que la de este gran senor "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John Fredrickson | 1/28/2014

    " A distinct favorite of mine. The first edition of Leaves of Grass shines with a spiritual glow that is not as evident in later versions. I have read and re-read this book numerous times. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julie | 1/26/2014

    " Ultimate love for this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Somara Zwick-Madalinski | 1/19/2014

    " i changed to "read" but i am happily re-reading bits of the book all the time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alex | 1/18/2014

    " Some of the most touching poems I have ever read. Walt is amazing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jenna | 1/18/2014

    " changed my life a little bit. All green and gold, I love you Walt Whitman. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rich | 1/14/2014

    " Walt Whitman, greatest poet "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tomw | 1/9/2014

    " I've been "thumbing" through this again. His words are so modern and so "warm" in tone. I can see his influence on The Beats. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kelly | 1/6/2014

    " Incredible! Especially the Death-Bed edition. I don't know which I love more, Whitman the man, or the leaves he left behind. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Katryn O'Connor | 11/9/2013

    " Another book I constantly go back to and thumb through my favorite passages. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Donna Ives-kimpel | 11/3/2013

    " Long ago "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lesley Ingham | 11/2/2013

    " I liked it and I don't even like poetry. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jeff | 10/24/2013

    " Working my way through this an offering at a time although at a slow pace. There are very few selections I have enjoyed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 10/12/2013

    " Hadn't read this in a long time, and definitely had never read his incredibly dense preface. Sometimes intriguing, but often times I was thinking that people who read this in 1855 would maybe have thought Whitman off his rocker. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Katherine | 9/28/2013

    " One of my favorite books, ever. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deena Widran | 9/23/2013

    " Just reread- can't remember if I originally read this in high school or college. Still found it to be as exhilerating, passionate and sensual as I remember. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ren | 9/5/2013

    " Song of Myself and Cadmus saved my life when I was in high school. Whitman presented homosexuality and love of the self along side nature, as if it were as natural as anything else in the world. Remains a favorite today. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Beth | 8/25/2013

    " Incredible. I have Post-it note arrows throughout the book so I can refer back to sections I found particularly poignant. A truly beautiful, lyrical, thought-provoking piece of poetry. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jasmin | 8/18/2013

    " It was quite complicated for me and not what I expected at all but there were some beautiful passages that I will never forget. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shane | 8/17/2013

    " read this book outside, in the sunshine, on the grass, while a breeze blows the pages gently about. This book will change your perspective. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robert Tell | 8/12/2013

    " I've read this book every few years since the 1950's and like it better each time I read it. Whitman has earned his stripes as a uniquely American giant in the history of poetry. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brandi Mechling | 7/19/2013

    " My favorite poetry. I was to have a good portion of it memorized. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Randi | 6/3/2013

    " Wow, what a surprise! It's haunting me between moments when I pick it up. I am reading the edition as it was originally published by the author in 1855, the 150th anniversary edition. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nathan | 5/24/2013

    " Sometimes I feel like the air is an opposable force. That's when I need some Whitman. Mortal flesh is the only limit he acknowledges. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy | 5/14/2013

    " You can pick up this book every day and learn something about poetry, writing, and probably yourself. Recreation ally reading poetry isn't really my thing (I do like to study it), but Whitman writes more than poetry - he writes the human narrative. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christina | 4/18/2013

    " Whitman is one of my favorite poets, and this is a wonderful showcase of his poetry. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elliott | 1/10/2013

    " This book completely REVOLUTIONIZED poetry for me! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kim | 9/30/2012

    " There isn't an American poet who moves me as much as Walt Whitman. I wrote about him in college. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Micah Nicholson | 8/15/2012

    " one of the best. highly recommend. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 7/14/2012

    " This is what I want to read on my deathbed. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nate | 4/11/2012

    " An American religion. In another age Whitman would have written Holy Books. I think of him every time I cross the Brooklyn Bridge. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lewis | 2/21/2012

    " Leaves of Grass is more than merely a book of poems. When you read it from that perspective, that the author was writing from the state of Cosmic Consciousness (not the highest state, but higher than most) it transforms into what he really meant, I believe ... scripture. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shubha | 1/28/2012

    " Required reading for AP Lit. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura | 1/22/2012

    " "I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ming | 1/20/2012

    " very sensual "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ian | 12/17/2011

    " My favorite edition of LoG, if I dare choose just one. This Walt is particularly brazen and more ecstatic than later Walt's. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ochre | 10/26/2011

    " Wonderful, vivid imagery. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Raven Mardirosian | 10/21/2011

    " His words will endure for centuries. Amazingly gifted, fully human and clearly from another -- many -- dimensions. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Micah Nicholson | 10/18/2011

    " one of the best. highly recommend. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heather | 9/17/2011

    " Four years after Mark Halliday tried to convince our workshop why we should all love Whitman, I finally get it. And I'm so glad I gave it another shot. Thank you, Professor Halliday. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John Dziennik | 7/18/2011

    " After September 11, this was the only thing I could read for a month. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rebecca | 7/5/2011

    " Whitman says either too much or too little. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachael Willis | 6/8/2011

    " His poems reflect America. We can learn so much from his perspective on life, nature, and war. If we could all look through his eyes we would understand our world a little better. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Angelique | 5/18/2011

    " A true classic!I read this book in high school and it's as profound today is it was then. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leigh | 5/18/2011

    " Some of Whitman's more prosaic excesses don't work for me; but other parts make me cry like a child. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ian | 5/10/2011

    " Leaves of Grass is short and deep and beautiful.It gave me hope and despair, affirmed and denied me, raised me up, brought me down, and leveled me out. I will certainly read it again. If you haven't yet, take the time. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Megan | 5/9/2011

    " I didn't read all of it but i got the jest of it. I got to know how he wrote so i'm able to truthfully know what most of the poems are about! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy | 4/9/2011

    " Give me the splendid silent sun with all its beams full dazzling. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ke | 4/9/2011

    " Really nice descriptions. He seems like a humble man.

    I'm not sure why he wanted to write about other cultures when he knew so little about them.

    I found it repetitive at times. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nicole | 4/4/2011

    " This book perpetually occupies my "currently reading shelf": when I feel callous or angry or lost, I reach for it, thumb to a random page, read whatever it says and feel at once redeemed.


    "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laure | 3/26/2011

    " Sublime. La poesía de Whitman es una delicia. Tan contundente, tan poderosa... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sam | 3/26/2011

    " A quintessential American voice. He loved our Full Selves. Unabridged, always unabridged. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ryan | 3/17/2011

    " I doubt I am qualified to say anything of note about this classic, but it's a collection I am very much looking forward to rereading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Zack | 3/6/2011

    " A masterpiece. In every sense of the word. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elektra | 3/2/2011

    " Ah poetry, how I love thee like leaves shedding in the fall. "

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About the Author
Author Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was the son of a carpenter. His formal schooling ended at age eleven, when he was apprenticed to a printer in Brooklyn. He spent the next two decades as a printer, freelance writer, and editor in New York. In 1855, at his own expense, he published the first edition of Leaves of Grass, which would mark him as the major poetic voice of an emerging America. Whitman would go on expanding and revising it for the rest of his life, with the final edition appearing in 1892, the year of his death.

About the Narrator

Mel Foster is a prolific audiobook narrator, having read dozens of titles throughout his career. He is the recipient of the prestigious Audie Award, as well as the AudioFile Earphones Award. A former advertising agency executive who used to record test tracks for commercials, his narration career was born out of encouragement from his clients who would often say, “why are we hiring someone else? I like this guy.”