It’s not everyday that Darth Vader can get into some poetry. In honor of what would have been American poetry icon Walt Whitman’s 196th birthday yesterday, we bring you this dramatic reading of his work for New York community center 92Y.  Actor and national treasure James Earl Jones reads selections from Whitman’s seminal work Leaves of Grass.

For those who only know Whitman’s name from Breaking Bad, Whitman’s poetry was widely criticized in it’s day for it’s overtly sexual nature, often being described as “crude” or “crass” by critics of the time.


One of the longest and most controversial pieces within Leaves of Grass was Whitman’s 52 section poem “Song of Myself which Jones reads selections from. Jones, who has provided the voices for Mufasa in The Lion King and imperial leader Darth Vader in the original three Star Wars brings his formidable dramatic chops to the table and the recording is a solid introduction to Whitman’s work for everyone from an American history buff to a poetry geek.

Check out the reading here and if you dig it you can buy the full version of Leaves of Grass  here.

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