Whitmanâ€™s uniquely revealing impressions of the people, places, and events of his timeâ€”with a brilliant new introduction by Leslie Jamison, author of the bestselling The Empathy Exams.
One of the most creative and individual poets America has produced, Walt Whitman was also a prolific diarist, note-taker, and essayist whose intimate observations and reflections have profoundly deepened understanding of nineteenth-century American life. Specimen Days and Collect, first published in 1882, is a choice collection of Whitmanâ€™s uniquely revealing impressions of the people, places, and events of his time, principally the era of the Civil War and its aftermath.
On page after page, a vast panorama of American life unfolds, and with it rare glimpse of Whitman as poet, empathetic observer, and romantic wanderer. From his years as a wartime nurse in Washington, D.C., come touching glimpses of the dead and dying in military hospitals, memories of Abraham Lincoln, and vivid impressions of the nationâ€™s capital in a time of great crisis.
Whitmanâ€™s travel yields memorable recollections of Boston, the Hudson Valley, a walk through Central Park, Niagara Falls, the City of Denver, and more. Along with the famed essay â€śDemocratic Vistas,â€ť there are scenes from the poetâ€™s childhood, touching tributes to songbirds, wildflowers, friendship and freedom; impressions of the music of Beethoven, reflections on a last visit to Emerson, the deaths of Lincoln and Longfellow and the painful process of aging.
Deeply felt and vividly expressed, Specimen Days and Collect is a richly rewarding experience, a rare excursion into the mind and heard of one of Americaâ€™s greatest poetsâ€”and the America his poetry so richly commemorated.