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Most people know that Walt Whitman published the first edition of Leaves of Grass in 1855. What few people know is that he plagiarized many of the most famous lines in the book from a lesser-known Massachusetts poet named Whit Waltman, who published his own Keep Off The Grass in 1854. The only known copy of Waltman’s book has been passed down by my family for generations, and I’m very happy to finally offer excerpts from it here.
Excerpts from Keep Off The Grass
by Whit Waltman
I hear America singing,
And I wish it would shut the hell up.
I celebrate myself
And so should you,
Because every atom that’s yours is mine
And every atom that’s mine is mine.
Oh captain! My captain!
Do you think we could get this boat moving sometime today?
These runaway slaves aren’t going to return themselves.
Have you reckon’d a thousand acres much?
It takes a long god-damned time to mow, I can tell you.
Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.
And if you’re not here by 8:30,
I’m going to the game by myself.