American Poetry

February 24, 2013

An example of the Collection’s great strength in printed, manuscript, and visual materials documenting American Poetry is its outstanding holdings of materials relating to the life and writing of Walt Whitman. In addition to distinguished copies of all of Whitman’s published works (including five copies of the extraordinarily rare first edition of Leaves of Grass, published in 1855), the Library’s Walt Whitman Collection contains letters, manuscripts, photographs, art, and other material dating from 1842 – 1949, and features the Whitmania of Yale benefactors Owen F. Aldis, Louis Mayer Rabinowitz, Adrian Van Sinderen, and others. One of the most important works of American Literature, Whitman’s Leaves of Grass is a celebration of the democratic spirit, the emotional and intellectual power of literature and art, and of the poet himself. In the more than 150 years since it was first published, Leaves of Grass and its author have played a crucial role in shaping American literature and the American literary imagination.

Image: Walt Whitman, “As in a Swoon,” undated.

Collection Highlights Exhibited in Multitudes: A Celebration of the Yale Collection of American Literature: Copies of the 1855 first edition of Leaves of Grass (including Owen F. Aldis’s copy); manuscripts, photographs, and memorabilia from the Walt Whitman Collection. American Poetry–Checklist & Object Descriptions