Commentary

Selected Criticism

Title:
"As Adam Early in the Morning" (1860)
Author:
Klawitter, George
Print source:
J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, eds., Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), reproduced by permission.

"As Adam Early in the Morning" appeared as number 15 in the cluster "Enfans d'Adam" of the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass. Whitman made minor variations in punctuation from edition to edition, and in his Blue Book revisions of the 1860 edition, he tried out several titles but settled for the first line title "As Adam Early in the Morning," the first two words of which had not appeared in the 1860 edition (Blue Book 2:314).

Allen sees the poem as a kind of epilogue for the "Children of Adam" cluster, celebrating tactile sensation, and Miller notes that the poem opens up the world for modern man to search out his own Eden. Nathanson sees the poem as a perfect example of Whitman's ability to fuse person with voice; a reader is encouraged to touch a body which, in reality, does not exist beyond the confines of the words on the page. Thus the poem evokes a kind of magical or mystical presence of the narrator. Reiss reads the poem as a single sentence moving from a subordinate clause vague in direction to an independent clause that does not satisfy with any kind of closure. There is in the poem, however, a fusion of Adam with the I–narrator, making the poem in actuality a process for the reader, a creative act.

Bibliography

Allen, Gay Wilson. Walt Whitman Handbook. 1946. New York: Hendricks House, 1962.

Miller, James E., Jr. A Critical Guide to "Leaves of Grass." Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1957.

Nathanson, Tenney. Whitman's Presence: Body, Voice, and Writing in "Leaves of Grass." New York: Yew York UP, 1992.

Reiss, Edmund. "Whitman's Poetic Grammar: Style and Meaning in 'Children of Adam.'" American Transcendental Quarterly 12 (1971): 32–41.

Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass: A Textual Variorum of the Printed Poems. Ed. Sculley Bradley, Harold W. Blodgett, Arthur Golden, and William White. Vol. 3. New York: New York UP, 1980.

____. Walt Whitman's Blue Book. Ed. Arthur Golden. 2 vols. New York: New York Public Library, 1968.


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