POETRY – FREE VERSE: “Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass” / Freedom From Religion Foundation ☮

Walt WhitmanI think I could turn and live with animals, they’re so placid and self contain’d,. . . .
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the earth.

~ Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1891 edition

On this date in 1819, Walt Whitman [May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892] was born on Long Island. After working as clerk, teacher, journalist and laborer, Whitman wrote his masterpiece, Leaves of Grass, pioneering free verse poetry in a humanistic celebration of humanity, in 1855. Emerson, whom Whitman revered, said of Leaves of Grass that it held “incomparable things incomparably said.” During the Civil War, Whitman worked as an army nurse, later writing Drum Taps (1865) and Memoranda During the War (1867). His health compromised by the experience, he was given work at the Treasury Department in Washington, D.C. After a stroke in 1873, which left him partially paralyzed, Whitman lived his next 20 years with his brother, writing mainly prose, such as Democratic Vistas (1870). Leaves of Grass was published in nine editions, with Whitman elaborating on it in each successive edition. In the preface of the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass, Whitman wrote, “This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God.” In 1881, the book had the compliment of being banned by the commonwealth of Massachusetts on charges of immorality.

Whitman was at most a Deist who scorned religion (see several samples of his views below). D. 1892.

h/t: Freedom From Religion Foundation

IN REMEMBRANCE: “Here’s What Kurt Vonnegut Can Teach You About Life” / HuffPost Arts & Culture / Maddie Crum ☮

1990 file photo of author Kurt Vonnegut visiting at the Beverly Hils Hotel, promoting his new book tha deals with the environment. (Photo by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

1990 file photo of author Kurt Vonnegut visiting at the Beverly Hills Hotel, promoting his new book tha deals with the environment. (Photo by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“There’s only one rule that I know of,
babies —
God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

Kurt Vonnegut, the beloved novelist we have to thank for Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat’s Cradle would have turned [93] today. Aside from his terrific and inventive page-turners, Vonnegut is often remembered for his outspokenness about both political and moral issues, as well as the importance of art. He advocated humanism both in interviews and in his books. It makes sense, then, that many of his novels contain quotable advice on how to live well.

Here’s some of the best advice gleaned from his novels, essays, and interviews:

Continue reading . . .

BOOKS: “Shakespeare and Company Antiquarian Books” / Sylvia Whitman


With cameo appearances in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris and Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset, Shakespeare and Company is arguably the most iconic bookshop in the French capital. The building, a 17th century ex-monastery has become a landmark in the 5th arrondissement. Apart from being a bookstore, it also serves as a haven where aspiring writers can stay for free – Allen Ginsberg and Anaïs Nin have both been guests in the past. Originally established in 1919 by an American called Sylvia Beach, fellow expatriate George Whitman took over after Beach’s death in 1951.