(no more as the past forty years for
And you lady of ships, you Mannahatta,
Old matron of this proud, friendly, turbulent city,
Often in peace and wealth you were pensive or covertly
A year—year of the struggle,
No dainty rhymes or sentimental love verses for you
why to advertise for them?
For I myself am not one who bestows nothing upon man
S the river road, (my forenoon walk, my rest,)
Skyward in air a sudden muffled sound, the dalliance of
R in thought over the Universe, I saw the little
T the ample open door of the peaceful country
S and amazed even when a little boy,
I remember I heard the preacher every Sunday put God
O a flat road runs the well-train'd runner,
He is lean and sinewy with muscular legs,
He is thinly clothed, he leans forward as he runs,
With lightly closed fists and arms partially rais'd.
O obedience, faith, adhesiveness;
As I stand aloof and look there is to me something pro-
O Justice—as if Justice could be any thing but the
G o'er all, through all,
Through Nature, Time, and Space,
As a ship on the waters advancing,
The voyage of the soul—not life alone,
Death, many deaths I'll sing.
H never come to thee an hour,
A sudden gleam divine, precipitating, bursting all these
W sit or move to and fro, some old, some young,
The young are beautiful—but the old are more beautiful
I the sleeping babe nestling the breast of its mother,
The sleeping mother and babe—hush'd, I study them
O Equality—as if it harm'd me, giving others the same
I in you the estuary that enlarges and spreads itself
F O songs for a prelude,
Lightly strike on the stretch'd tympanum pride and joy
Scott, who first gave greeting and encourage-
ment to another poet, of quite opposite order—a
poet of romanticism like Dante Gabriel Rossetti—
should act also as the herald of Walt Whitman—
poet above everything of the actual, and the higher
out of the abounding experiences of the years
between 1855 and 1862, over which we must leap
hastily to the outbreak of the Civil War,—an event
of heroic importance in Whitman's life.
since rumours of war first began ever had such a
record as is to be found in his war-poems,
from the stirring "First O Songs for a Prelude," to
the final strains,—"Spirit whose work is done,"
"Adieu O Soldiers," and the beautiful last of
the series, "To the leaven'd soil they trod,"
wherein he tells with such exquisite imaginative
suggestion of untying the tent ropes for the
last time and letting the freshness of the morning
wind, sunned and scented with the restoring scent
of grass and all growing things, go blowing through,
sweeping away for ever the clinging odours of war
and death which had made the air sickly and
terrible for so long, while the eye sent its glance
with a thrill of escape to the wide, calm sweep of
hills and plains in the distant sunlight, instinct with
the sentiment of restored peace and beauty.
Rossetti's volume of ten years later—
"Selected Poems by Walt Whitman," which
for long well serve as the only representative
of the poet in England.
I must not forget to mention that both the
families were near enough to the sea to behold it
from the high places, and to hear in still hours the
roar of the surf; the latter, after a storm, giving a
peculiar sound at night." There is a temptation
to quote a great many of Whitman's own notes
about the neighbourhood, but only a brief excerpt
or two can be given.
A note by John Burroughs,
describing briefly the house where Walt Whitman
was born and bred, says:—"The Whitmans lived
in a long storey-and-a-half farm-house, hugely
timbered, which is still standing.
Fantastic idols may be worshipped for a while; but at length they are overturned by the continual and silent progress of Truth, as the grim statues of Copan have been pushed from their pedestals by the growth of forest-trees, whose seeds were sown by the wind in the ruined walls.
Whitman's greatest literary accomplishment, Leaves of Grass, had set the ideas of divinity, the hierarchy of the holy trinity, and the ethereal perfection afforded these things into turmoil.
Forests, lakes, and rivers, clouds and winds, stars and flowers, stupendous glaciers and crystal snowflakes — every form of animate or inanimate existence, leaves its impress upon the soul of man.
In his , an
autobiographical volume of incomparable prose-
notes, as well as in many of the poems, Walt
Whitman refers constantly to the great influence
of his early childish days in their free open-air
environment upon his mental and spiritual growth.
He was, indeed, wonderfully happy in his early
surroundings,—in his vigorous healthy parentage
and home influences.
Walt Whitman the author and compiler of this exceptional work changed the status of poetry writing through his utilization of thought and expression in the publication of the Leaves of Grass.
It was not until Emerson sent to Walt
Whitman what was really his first recognition
from the literary world, the now famous letter
of greeting, that the book became at all known.
A characteristic passage or two from this letter
may be given:—"I am not blind to the worth
of the wonderful gift of .
This might seem
exaggerated, but this special amount is attested
beyond the suspicion even of exaggeration, and it
is typical, it will be found, of Walt Whitman's native
influence and stimulus throughout.