Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Louisa Snowdon to Walt Whitman, 2 August 1887

Date: August 2, 1887

Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1953), 4:223. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Location: The location of this manuscript is unknown.

Whitman Archive ID: med.00820

Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Stefan Schöberlein, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock




Hampstead, London N. W.,
Aug. 2, 1887.

Dear Sir.

Presumptuous as it may be, I cannot refrain from sending these few lines to you from the old country to thank you for the new life your poems have given to me. Since reading them—and I have read them again and again—especially the Leaves of Grass, I have felt conscious of a new vista opening before me. I am only twenty-three—yet I feel as if the past few years (breaking away gradually, as I have been, from surroundings orthodox and conventional) were long eras of indifference and lethargy. How delightful to feel that there are such great possibilities in life! All my sceptical rejection of creeds and dogmas is giving place to a sense of the eternal fitness of things. In my blind unreasoning egotism I mistook the shadow for the substance, and thought that "religion" was what is preached from the orthodox pulpit and practiced in the city. And then I came upon two lines of your Leaves of Grass:

"I swear the earth shall surely be complete to
him or her who shall be complete!
I swear the earth remains jagged and broken only
to him or her who remains broken and jagged!"

I wish I could explain to you in what way they touched as with a magnet some latent chord. And yet I feel there is no need to explain anything. You will understand.

I have already reached across the water and clasped your hand. I have found something deeper and more precious to me than your printed words. I am looking forward hopefully and joyfully to a future which shall not be lacking in strength.

Forgive my illogical desultory manner of writing. I think you will understand all I would convey. The little picture of your home life in Specimen Days has so much interested me. Now I feel as if I knew you in the flesh as well as in the spirit. Accept the grateful thanks of yours faithfully.


Louisa Snowdon.


Correspondent:
Little is known about Louisa Snowden. Whitman told Horace Traubel that she was "one of the beautiful unknowns" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Wednesday, February 27, 1889).


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