Leaves of Grass: Preface to the Original Edition, 1855

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Trübner & Company, 1881 - 31 pages

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Page 14 - But to speak in literature with the perfect rectitude and insouciance of the movements of animals and the unimpeachableness of the sentiment of trees in the woods and grass by the roadside is the flawless triumph of art.
Page 14 - The soul has that measureless pride which consists in never acknowledging any lessons or deductions but its own. But it has sympathy as measureless as its pride, and the one balances the other, and neither can stretch too far while it stretches in company with the other.
Page 11 - ... income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families...
Page 27 - ... knows that the young man who composedly periled his life and lost it has done exceeding well for himself, while the man who has not periled his life and retains it to old age in riches and ease has perhaps achieved nothing for himself worth mentioning...
Page 24 - What is the wisdom that fills the thinness of a year, or seventy or eighty years — to the wisdom spaced out by ages, and coming back at a certain time with strong reinforcements and rich presents, and the clear faces of weddingguests as far as you can look, in every direction, running gaily toward you? Only the soul is of itself — all else has reference to what ensues.
Page 29 - The English language befriends the grand American expression ... it is brawny enough and limber and full enough. On the tough stock of a race who through all change of circumstance was never without the idea of political liberty, which is the animus of all liberty, it has attracted the terms of daintier and gayer and subtler and more elegant tongues. It is the powerful language of resistance ... it is the dialect of common sense. It is the speech of the proud and melancholy races and of all who aspire....
Page 15 - ... health or heat or snow has and be as regardless of observation. What I experience or portray shall go from my composition without a shred of my composition. You shall stand by my side and look in the mirror with me. The old red blood and stainless gentility of great poets will be proved by their unconstraint. A heroic person walks at his ease through and out of that custom or precedent or authority that suits him not.
Page 21 - ... actions with theirs. The poets of the kosmos advance through all interpositions and coverings and turmoils and stratagems to first principles. They are of use — they dissolve poverty from its need, and riches from its conceit.
Page 3 - ... the slough still sticks to opinions and manners and literature, while the life which served its requirements has passed into the new life of the new forms — perceives that the corpse is slowly borne from the eating and sleeping rooms of the house...
Page 22 - Of ornaments to a work nothing outre can be allowed — but those ornaments can be allowed that conform to the perfect facts of the open air, and that flow out of the nature of the work, and come irrepressibly from it, and are necessary to the completion of the work. Most works are most beautiful without ornament.

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