Banned Books Week 2017 – Leaves of Grass

Banned Books – Banned books are books or other printed works such as essays or plays which are prohibited by law or to which free access is not permitted by other means. The practice of banning books is a form of censorship, from political, legal, religious, moral, or (less often) commercial motives. – Wikipedia

There are a lot of reasons why a book gets banned.  Usually, because someone, somewhere disagrees with the ideas in a book.  So because that person, or group, doesn’t like the book they decide that no one else should be able to read it.

In celebration of banned books week, I will choose one banned book each day to highlight.  Some of those won’t be a surprise.  Some of them may shock you. Good. Don’t be afraid to read a banned book today…


Leaves of  Grass

Reasons for ban: Obscenity, sensuality, homoerotic themes


The untold want, by life and land ne’er granted,

Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find

First of all, to be honest, this book of poetry is everything they said it is. An honest reader has to admit, it is very racy! It is full of sensual descriptions of intimacy both hetero- and homosexual. I can imagine when the book was published in 1855 it went off like a bomb! One critic at the time said reading it was like walking down the street naked. Mr. Whitman also lost his job, when his Supervisor found out he was the one who wrote the book.

The book is also very beautiful. The author is intensely observant. He writes voluminously about the natural word. He writes about the rich, and poor. Young and old. Men and women. His writing is infused with hope for the future and pride in the human condition with all its flaws. He is not unaware of the problems of life in the time he lives in, but he is generous in appreciation for the people around him.

It’s a looooong poem and I’m not a big fan of poetry, so I have to admit that I’ve not read the entire thing. But there are lines and passages that are striking and touch me very deeply.  I’ll leave you with one of my favorites.

I know I shall not pass like a child’s carlacue cut with a burnt
stick at night.

I know I am august,
I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be understood,
I see that the elementary laws never apologize,
(I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I plant my house by,
after all.)
I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content.
One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that is my-
And whether I come to my own to-day or in ten thousand or ten
million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can wait.
My foothold is tenon’d and mortis’d in granite,
I laugh at what you call dissolution,
And I know the amplitude of time.
Wonderful, right?
Ok, I’ve found a few more bloggers who are celebrating Banned Books Week and I’d like to introduce them to you now. Please visit their blogs…

I am in such good company!

One thought on “Banned Books Week 2017 – Leaves of Grass

  1. YAY! I’m so glad that I’m not the only person celebrating banned books week! It’s obvious that I need to do a better job blog hopping. And, perhaps even spread the love a bit more and find some new blogger friends.

    I haven’t read Leaves of Grass, but it’s certainly on my TBR. Ugh. I can’t believe people would challenge a *poetry* book! That’s the whole point, right? To challenge the way people think and get them to view the beauty of the world differently? I want to try to find an audiobook of this– I much prefer listening to poetry read to me than reading it in silence.

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