Walt Whitman/Leaves of Grass #9 : Song of the Redwood-Tree





The interactive transcript could not be loaded.



Rating is available when the video has been rented.
This feature is not available right now. Please try again later.
Published on Oct 3, 2010

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) From Leaves of Grass Part 9: Song of the Redwood-Tree

Song of the Redwood-Tree first appeared in Harper's in 1874. Whitman included it in the 1881 edition of Leaves of Grass.

In Walt Whitman and the Earth: A Study in Ecopoetics, M. Jimmie Killingsworth writes that Whitman was depressed when he wrote Song of the Redwood-Tree in the fall of 1873. [1] He was living with his brother George after having had a stroke In February of that year, [2] and he was discontented by the post war national direction. [3]

As he had with earlier editions, Whitman edited and reordered many poems for the 1881 edition. For this edition he created five new clusters for the book's presentation. [4] He included Song of the Redwood-Tree in the Calamus cluster.

Killingsworth writes that Whitman had never seen a redwood tree in nature, but speculates that he may have seen an exhibit of one though Whitman doesn't speak of such. [5] In his essay, Killingsworth describes Whitman portrayal of the tree as an abstraction. He says the poem presents a "nature-as-resource" perspective of ecology, and suggests Whitman may have been influenced by the ideas of Manifest Destiny of the 1840's and 50's about American westward expansion. [6,7] Killingsworth cites Howard Nelson's criticism that Song of the Redwood Tree "contains a pure dose on nineteenth century boosterism of modern progress that should make any 21st century reader wince." [8]

Text of Song of the Redwood-Tree

Sources and Notes
Walt Whitman Archive: M. Jimmie Killingsworth, Walt Whitman and the Earth: A Study in Ecopoetics
[Notes: 1: The Fall of the Redwood Tree, 3 (same,) 5 (same,) 6 (same,) 8 (same.)]

Walt Whitman Complete Poetry and Collected Prose, ed. Justin Kaplan, Library of America, 1982 [Notes: 2: Specimen Days ]

Walt Whitman Archive: Renner, Dennis K., "Leaves of Grass, 1881-82 edition," from Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia Garland Publishing, 1998 [Note 4]

  • Category

  • License

    • Standard YouTube License


When autoplay is enabled, a suggested video will automatically play next.

Up next

to add this to Watch Later

Add to

Loading playlists...