LEAVES OF GRASS
Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” could stand as an autobiography, as a self-portrait, and as the life work of a man who first began to write in 1855. The book provoked a reaction of praise and criticism unequaled by any other American work of literature before. His friends agreed that he and the book were the same, and this was exactly the illusion the poet wished to create. But of course the two were separate. The Walt Whitman who was portrayed in “Leaves of Grass” was transcendental, as much myth as man. The mortal Walt was born to a family of English and Dutch extraction on 31 May, 1819, in West Hills, Long Island, N.Y.