Commentary

Disciples


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 10] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Tuesday, April 3d, 1888.

     W. in good shape. Speaks optimistically about his health. [See indexical note p010.4] "I am of course only gradually though surely losing strength, but the experiences going with this do not disturb me: no man housed up as I am could expect to hold his ground against old age. But I am convinced that I can

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 11] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
feint off the end for a long time to come: I am not anxious to, only determined upon it: we are not going to expect to lose even a losing fight—that would not be like us: we are not easily subdued: we must stick, eternally stick, until sticking itself will stick no more."
 [See indexical note p011.1]

     He gave me some books to deliver to two or three persons in Philadelphia to whom he felt indebted for courtesies. He is always giving away books. He sent copies of the two volumes 1876 edition by me to Adler.  [See indexical note p011.2] "Adler," he says, "is first rate soil. He is all gone on ethics. Worse things might happen to him, though ethics is bad enough. I do not see how these Ethical fellows can expect to do much as an opposition to the church: they may stir the church up, plague it into reforms, changes, even revolutions—but the church is bound to continue to be the church imminent—imminent, imperative. [See indexical note p011.3] People have thought I was powerful 'set agin' the church: but the church has not bothered me—I do not bother the church: that is a clean cut bargain. I am done with the letter of the church—with its hands and knees: but that part of the church which is not jailed in church buildings is all mine too, as well as anybody's—all of it, all of it!"

     My mother had sent W. some cookies. "The best part of every man is his mother," said W. [See indexical note p011.4] I told him of one of his girl friends who had just given birth to a boy baby. "She will be too proud to go with us when she gets up," he jocularly remarked—adding: "But any mother of any baby has a right to be proud."

     Back of him on the wall was a pencilled figure of a rather ragged looking nondescript. "Where did you get that?" I asked. "Would you believe it—the tramp himself was here this morning." [See indexical note p011.5] He was a curious character—an itinerant poet: and he read me some of his poems: Lord pass him, what stuff! But it was his own, written on the road. It made me feel bad to think that he could go along in the

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 12] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
sun and rain and write while I am housed up here in the dust of a dead room eking out my substance in coalstove words."
"Coalstove" was good. [See indexical note p012.1] But he burns wood in his stove. But how did he come by the picture? "The poet said he had drawn it himself sitting on a field outside Camden somewhere before a bit of a broken looking glass, which he had balanced on his knee." He reflected as I left: "When I said goodbye to the tramp I was envious: I could not see what right he had to his monopoly of the fresh air. He said he was bound for some place in Maryland. I shall dream of Maryland tonight—dream of farm fences, barns, singing birds, sounds, all sorts, over the hills."


Comments?

Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Ed Folsom & Kenneth M. Price, editors.