Leaving the M/Other: Whitman, Kristeva, and Leaves of Grass

By Beth Jensen | Go to book overview

3
1867 Edition: Mater Dolorosa

IN 1865, AFTER THE CIVIL WAR HAD ENDED, WHITMAN PUBLISHED A seventy-two-page collection of poems entitled Drum-Taps. Between 1865 and 1866, he added an additional twenty-four pages to the Drum-Taps collection, entitled Sequel: When Lilacs Last in the Door-Yard Bloom'd and Other Poems. Both works were annexed into the 1867 edition of Leaves of Grass and were incorporated into the body of the book in 1871–1872. Even though most of the poems in Drum-Taps were written and published in 1865, I will discuss them as part of the 1867 edition.

In the Drum-Taps collection, the style and subject matter are more traditional than in the earlier editions, as Gay Wilson Allen notes in The New Walt Whitman Handbook:

Under the strong emotional stress of a country engaged in deadly
combat, Whitman's rhythms become more regular. That is true of
nearly all the poems in this collection. The fact that they are less phil-
osophical and introspective, more concerned with some definite ex-
perience or exact spot, and with the simple emotions of courage,
loyalty, or pity may account to some extent for their being briefer,
more unified, and nearer conventional patterns. Perhaps they were
written more hastily, 'on the spot,' than the earlier poems. Some crit-
ics have thought them artistically inferior to the earlier work, and no
doubt the greater regularity of form is inconsistent with Whitman's
literary theory; but it is also interesting to find him so absorbed in
external events, and so dedicating himself to a worthy cause that for
the time he can forget himself and his theory. (114)

The trochaic meter of [Pioneers! O Pioneers!] and the syncopated iambic meter and regular stanzaic pattern of [O Captain! My Captain!] suggest a shift towards more controlled forms of writing. The pastoral elegy, an old poetic form used in [When Li80

-80-

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Leaving the M/Other: Whitman, Kristeva, and Leaves of Grass
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Acknowledgments 9
  • Introduction - Whitman's [Mother] 13
  • 1: 1855 and 1856 Editions: Blissful Union 30
  • 2: 1860 Edition: Ambivalent Struggle 55
  • 3: 1867 Edition: Mater Dolorosa 80
  • 4: 1871 and 1876 Editions: the Symbolic 99
  • Notes 112
  • Bibliography 128
  • Index 132
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