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Leaves of Grass © Jim Brandenburg/Minden Pictures
If you feel inclined to lounge on the lawn today, we encourage you to crack open a copy of ‘Leaves of Grass,’ the life’s work of American poet Walt Whitman, whose birthday is May 31. When ‘Leaves of Grass’ was first released in 1855 it was considered controversial for its imagery of sexuality among other wide-ranging topics. Expressed as a form of free verse without rhyme and with ever-changing meter and rhythm, Whitman’s style was highly personal, but also expansive, meant to reflect the limitless possibilities of Americans and the United States itself. He spent years revising and adding to the compilation of poems and today is regarded as one of the most important of American poets. He once said, "Keep your face always toward the sunshine—and shadows will fall behind you."