It is astonishing the way Whitman can reach in and grab the reader in just a few lines. Leaves of Grass meets readers where they are, calling them into a new relationship with language, with nature, and with the printed word, yet also challenges the reader to go beyond what is given. This is not a reciprocal relationship; it is not about give and take.
Like a masterful teacher, in his poetry Whitman seeks you out and promises more than what is on the page if you will bring more to the reading of the poem. As much as Whitman celebrates loafing, you can’t be a lazy reader when it comes to Leaves of Grass. There is simply too much to miss. And you need to do this on your own, of your own volition, hoping perhaps someday to reach the moment when you become the filter.