If you want to see the spirit of American arts and letters, track the life and work of Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, Thomas Pynchon, and David Foster Wallace. Among their many differences, there is one strong similarly: a fetish for language. But it all started with Walt Whitman. According to this source, this is the sound of an authentic wax cylinder with Whitman’s voice. Listen to the pregnant pauses, the theatrical use of words. Kerouac did this, Foster Wallace, too. Here, Whitman reads from his sentimental and patriotic poem, “America.”

Here’s the poem:


Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,

All, all alike endear’d, grown, ungrown, young or old,

Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,

Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love…