|—||Walt Whitman, “An American Primer” (April 1904)|
Walt Whitman, Original manuscript for the “Calamus” poems
The “Calamus” poems, first published in the third edition of Leaves of Grass (1860), describe Whitman’s longing for the companionship and love of men. By treating the subject of love between men so boldly, these poems became some of the most infamous pieces of poetry in mid-19th century America. Not only was the book banned in Boston and other places, it resulted in Whitman losing his job and suffering at the hands of critics. Now, however, these poems are an essential part of American poetic history, and Whitman occupies a rightful place as one of the great visionaries of American letters. Happy Banned Books week, Whitman!
For more photographs of the manuscript, click here.
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Courtesy of poetsorg.
In honor of National Poetry Month 2012