Title: Eleanor Lawney to Walt Whitman, 11 May 1884
Date: May 11, 1884
Editorial note: The annotation, "(from Eleanor Lawney | young woman)," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.
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.03212
Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein and Nicole Gray
201 East Broadway, Louisville, Ky.
May 11, 1884
Dear Mr. Whitman:
Do your remember how I visited you in Camden one day last June? Perhaps you will remember me by the bouquet of ferns and larkspurs. Now I am out here, and circumstances contrary to my wishes, will keep me here indefinitely.
This is one of my homesick days, and I have been thinking over what there is in the north that I would so much like to see, and hear, and among other things I think how much I would like to see you again, and hear you say, as you did before, "I'm glad you came!" I often think about you, and you have written so many lines for me that I wish to say a word back.
When I read I say "Yes, I am she, O you wise poet," and sometimes I think I must put out my hand for you; and I am sure that we have gone together down that brown road a great many times; and perhaps it was my pulse that you heard, like "little tinkling bells."1
I am very glad my eyes found the message you hid away for me—hid so deeply, though, that I barely found it, and at first doubted if there was a message there, or if it was for me.
I love you very much, and feel toward you, as toward all strong and true people, a sense of obligation.
In glad acknowledgement of your companionship, and hoping for you all good things,
Eleanor M. Lawney.
Eleanor M. Lawney (1851–1922) was a women's rights activist and later became the first woman to graduate from medical school in Colorado (in 1887).
1. Lawney quotes from "I Heard You Solemn-Sweet Pipes of the Organ," a poem first published in 1861 as "Little Bells Last Night" in the New York Leader (12 October 1861: ). [back]