Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Thomas W. H. Rolleston to Walt Whitman, 22 November [1883]

Date: November 22, 1883

Editorial notes: The annotation, "'83," is in the hand of Walt Whitman. The annotation, "see notes Feb 8 1889," 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: Walt Whitman Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Library, Syracuse, N.Y.

Whitman Archive ID: syr.00017

Contributors to digital file: Eder Jaramillo, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Kirsten Clawson, and Nicole Gray



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Nov. 22nd
28 Terrassen Ufer
Dresden.

My dear friend and master—

I am at last able to send you the lecture, which I have now got published together with another by a friend of mine here, delivered before the same society. I hope it may do something, however little, towards making the L. of G. known here. If any American bookseller would like it, which is not, I suppose, very probable, he must write to the publisher, Tittman. We are selling it for 1 mark, which = I think a quarter of a dollar, about. I have sent a copy to Dr Bucke. Would you kindly transmit one to W. O'Connor? whose address I don't know. As to Dr Knortz, I fear it would be quite impossible to carry on the work of translation with him at such a distance. I have appended to my lecture a transl. of the Song of the Answerer, & in getting this translation into final form, I was astonished at the amount of discussion it gave rise to, between myself & a German friend who looked over my proofs, showing that it would be quite impossible to carry on the work of translation with another person across the Atlantic. Besides I greatly doubt if he would go into it. His admiration for the L. of G. is decidedly qualified by objection to your system of punctuation, use of participles, &c., which matters seem to bother him more than they ought. His translations are sympathetic & effective for the poetic passages—but when he converts a word whose meaning is a little remote or unusual, he evades the difficulty. For instance, here is his rendering of a passage from the Mystic Trumpeter ([st.?] 5).

—Blow again, Trumpeter! Take for thy theme
The All-encloser, the Redeemer and Orderer—
Love, pulse of the All, of sorrows & of joys,
The heart of man and woman;
No other theme than love—immortalizing, all-embracing, self-surrendering Love.

On the whole I begin to fear that a complete translation is not feasible, at present. But I might possibly reckon on assistance enough to produce good renderings of, say, 8 or ten of the longer poems, which might then be published in a small book—& perhaps pave the way for something more: What would you think of this?

I am sending McKay a copy of the lectures & am asking him that we have a copy of the L. of G. with broad margins, if he has got one. The 1882 reprint is not very satisfactory in this way to me at least, as I like to make notes & references in the book.

Things are going badly in Ireland. The [Govt ?] is putting down meetings (of the National party) right & left, for no reason, & the people are getting very exasperated. I had hoped great things from Gladstone's government, but that accursed Egyptian war opened my eyes finally to the mixture of hypocrisy & injustice which lie at the root of English policy. If you could only live in Ireland for a while, & see this sensitive, keen sighted, but helpless nation dragged about in the clumsy lurches of English Opportunism—seeing it all, knowing its own mind & ideal but condemned to incapacity for realizing it,—you would wish us God speed. And yet I did not always see my way to these views myself. Now I must close—I was very glad to hear of your health & pleasant circumstances, &c. in your last letter. May this one find it all unchanged.

Yours always
TW Rolleston.


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