This comprehensive volume celebrates the 150th anniversary of the 1855 edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass with twenty essays by preeminent scholars representing a variety of critical perspectives that focus exclusively on the original edition. Once regarded as primarily a collector's item, this edition is now viewed as the poet's most bold and compelling articulation of the possibilities of American democracy. The essays weave a rich tapestry of the most current, innovative criticism on this foundational book of American poetry. The contributors treat Whitman's poetry, his biography, his politics, his reception in the United States and abroad, race and ethnic issues, nineteenth-century America, and even the complex typographical history of the first edition of Leaves of Grass. The volume also includes a tribute from the renowned poet Galway Kinnell.