Commentary

Disciples


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 290] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Saturday, November 22, 1890

     7:50 P.M. Just as I got to W.'s door met Harned with a Rev. Mr. Buckley, who is to preach in Unity Church tomorrow: another one of the weekly candidates for the empty pulpit there. We all went upstairs together, Tom introducing Buckley as such a man and W. remarking with a smile, "If there's fun in variety, your folks down there must be having a good time nowadays!" But W. was not in good condition; said he had not been out today. Would scarcely talk at all—only in monosyllables. The stranger asked some silly questions—as, "What are you occupying your mind with just this moment?" and "At what hour of the day do you find your muse to best operate?" and the like, to which W.'s answers were less than non-committal. "I am all

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 291] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
of a jumble today—my stomach, my head."
And to the questions addressed him, "Only middling all day—a short middling." Tom picked up and read some manuscript poems from the table—remarking their power, etc. but eliciting no comment from W. except the aboriginal "Eh?" or "Oh," or "What?" which I know are his dismissals if they are rightly read. Said to me at one instant, "I sent Baker today the note we spoke of last night," and to Tom's queries about the new volume to appear, he had thought to get a copy of the big book bound in true calf—but had he better wait for this "Annex"? "Yes, wait. That would be best." Tom also asked, "How many pages in the new book?" W. laughing, "That remains—that remains." Saying in reply to another remark, "I am like the actors—my farewells are numerous, each crowded by another." I spoke with him somewhat about proofs I received from New York this morning. He asked if "the financial wave had yet subsided," and appeared to be interested in some details of the talk that arose between Harned and me. Harned asked for a copy of Truth Seeker to give to Buckley. Of course granted. Some compliments for Bob, W. participating. Tom finally left with Buckley. I remained to add a few words with W. alone. Queer how instantly we got on our closer themes, he woke up! "I have written to Doctor today," he said. I remarked the beauty of "To the Sunset Breeze." Read it in Lippincott's: stopping at a stand to do so. W. asked, "Do you do that: catch a bit or two, lounging at newsstands?" "Yes, often." He merrily said, "Gone again! I thought I was the only fellow ever did that. And you enjoy it? It is a great help—lift. Something in getting en rapport with the circulation of things—the rush of life, people, vehicles. I always found it stimulating." And then more specifically of the poem itself: "Was it clear sailing? Did you travel it at ease? Good! good! I like to hear that!" I liked its power—its beauty. "Do you think them there?" And laughingly told him my discussion with Burroughs, Burroughs contending that W.'s later poems lacked the poetic. W. throwing in quickly with a laugh, "And the earlier,

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 292] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
too! Ask anybody!"
Then informed me, "I have had a letter from Stoddart. He says he will be over to see me next week, bringing the picture; that he will talk with me about the picture and the page of poems." I advised, "I wish you could put a veto on the picture!" "I shall, but he'll likely not heed it." Then with joking tone, "Perhaps we can buy him off. If, as you say, he bought the cut cheap somewhere, can buy it—present him with a better." I informed him, "My idea now is, to start my piece with the autobiographic page and close it with your description of this room—filling in my own matter for the rest." He acquiesced very readily, saying, "Yes, do it: then let me see how it stands out. That is probably the best scheme." Further: "I am having some of the poems on slips—will also have copies of the magazines: you shall have both if you like."

     I asked him directly about the stomach. He said, "It is very bad. Very bad." And when I pursued the matter to ask, "Would you object to a doctor?" he said, "I think I would: I do not think that had better be followed up." Yet I shall do so, for from outward evidence he is worse than he has been.

     He still urges me about my "much-lingering—I hope not superfluous" piece. "Glad," he says, "I am to see it in a few days."

     W. never ceases to laugh over McKay's self-introduction to Ingersoll as the publisher of a book which did have, on the rest of the pages, something.


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.