Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Roden Noel to Walt Whitman, 30 March 1886

Date: March 30, 1886

Editorial notes: The annotation, "from Roden Noel April '86," is in the hand of Walt Whitman. The annotation, "see notes July 6 & 7 1888," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Source: Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Location: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02907

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Stefan Schöberlein, Ian Faith, Kyle Barton, and Nicole Gray



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Anerley Park. S.E.1
March 30 1886

My dear Sir:

I have sent through my publishers a vol. of my essays on Poetry & Poets, containing an essay on your own work, reprinted with additions from one I wrote some years ago—which I have been sorry not to see mentioned in the volumes of Dr Bucke2 and John Burroughs3—for I understand that you, & Mr. Burroughs had approved of it & (as you know) I have long been a grateful & warm admirer. Please let me have a line, if you are well enough, as I hope may be the case, to write. I welcome the vol. of young Mr. Rhys,4 & trust it will make you well known among us.

If you should come to England, I hope you will not forget that you would find a warm welcome in our house.

Ever yours with affectionate respect,
Roden Noel

P.S. I hope you may have seen & cared for some of my own work in poetry. I believe I sent you an early & immature volume, but not hearing from you did not send later, & stronger work.


Correspondent:
Roden Noel (1834–1894) was an English poet, critic, and admirer of Whitman. Noel's "A Study of Walt Whitman: The Poet of Modern Democracy" (Dark Blue 2 [October 1871], 241–253), spoke glowingly of the poet, describing him as "tall, colossal, luxuriant, unpruned, like some giant tree in a primeval forest. . . . He springs out of that vast American continent full-charged with all that is special and national in it" (242).

Notes:

1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman Esq | c/o Mess. Houghton Mifflin & Co | Boston | U.S.A. It is postmarked: DEFICIENCY IN ADDRESS | SUPPLIED BY | POST OFFICE | BOSTON, MASS.; THORNTON HEATH | E | AP | 86 | HICH ST; BOSTON, MASS | APR 13 | 12-M | 1886; [illegible] 1886 | PAID. [back]

2. Richard Maurice Bucke (1837–1902) was a Canadian physician and psychiatrist who grew close to Whitman after reading Leaves of Grass in 1867 (and later memorizing it) and meeting the poet in Camden a decade later. Even before meeting Whitman, Bucke claimed in 1872 that a reading of Leaves of Grass led him to experience "cosmic consciousness" and an overwhelming sense of epiphany. Bucke became the poet's first biographer with Walt Whitman (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883), and he later served as one of his medical advisors and literary executors. For more on the relationship of Bucke and Whitman, see Howard Nelson, "Bucke, Richard Maurice," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. The naturalist John Burroughs (1837–1921) met Walt Whitman on the streets of Washington, D. C., in 1864. After returning to Brooklyn in 1864, Whitman commenced what was to become a lifelong correspondence with Burroughs. Burroughs was magnetically drawn to Whitman. However, the correspondence between the two men is, as Burroughs acknowledged, curiously "matter-of-fact." Burroughs would write several books involving or devoted to Whitman's work: Notes on Walt Whitman, as Poet and Person (1867), Birds and Poets (1877), Whitman, A Study (1896), and Accepting the Universe (1924). For more on Burroughs, see Carmine Sarracino "Burroughs, John [1837-1921] and Ursula [1836-1917]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). It is likely that Noel is referring to Burrough's 1877 publication here. For more on Whitman's relationship with Burroughs, see Carmine Sarracino, "Burroughs, John [1837–1921] and Ursula [1836–1917]."  [back]

4. Ernest Percival Rhys (1859–1946) was a British author and editor; he founded the Everyman's Library series of inexpensive reprintings of popular works. He included a volume of Whitman's poems in the Canterbury Poets series and two volumes of Whitman's prose in the Camelot series for Walter Scott publishers. For more information about Rhys, see Joel Myerson, "Rhys, Ernest Percival (1859–1946)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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