Commentary

Disciples


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 006] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Friday, July 11, 1890

     5:35 P.M. Stopped at W.'s on my way home, and found him in his bedroom, making up some papers etc. for Bernard O'Dowd, Victoria: among them, Burroughs' Galaxy review of "Drum Taps." Spoke very brightly— "the delicious inspiring weather," etc., moving him. "By and by we shall go to the river." When I left he gave me the package to mail. Not damaged by overbalancing of chair last night. Warren described how this occurred: that it was while W. was alone, sitting in the chair, in front of the step. W. much shaken up by it, inclined to give up his trip. Proposed going indoors again, but persuaded otherwise by Warren and coming around all right in a little while.

     Had he yet thought of anyone to write the "Dutch" article? He said at once, "Let Kennedy do it: he is the man." Was he willing I should tell K. he wished it of him? "Yes, perfectly—do your own judgment in that." Then he added, "Kennedy will find something to help him in one of the early pages of Bucke's book." I put in, "Yes, but he'll get along best by that instinct which takes the bee to his flower." W. at this radiant: "I know no better way to say it than that: that is just what it is—inexplicable—yet certain as suns and stars." And when I continued, "All great work flows from that same stream, which cannot be measured or named," he still assented: "I believe nothing more than I believe that." And then, "I had a letter from Bucke today: he says he has heard from Kennedy at St. Paul. So I should suppose Kennedy will be along this way in three or four days."


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Begin page 007] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

     I read him passages from Gosse—essay on Runeberg (Camelot edition, p. 143), speaking of Longfellow:

Longfellow, who is an anomaly in American literature but who has the folk character of a Swedish poet, and who, had he been born in Sweden, would have completed exactly enough the chain of style that ought to unite the idealism of Tegnér to the realism of Runeberg. The poem of "Evangeline" has really no place in Anglo-Saxon poetry; in Swedish it would accurately express a stage in the progress of literature which is now unfilled. It is known that Mr. Longfellow has cultivated the language of Sweden with much assiduity, and has contemplated literary life in that country with all the unconscious affection of a changeling.

     W. listened intently. "So much for Gosse!" he exclaimed. "So that is what he says? It is good for all you can get from it—for nothing more. I get nothing from Gosse!"

     I told him the post-officers saying recently to me that they never examined or weighed any mail matter that Walt Whitman sent them. W. smiled and said, "That is a compliment. Then it is something more, and that something more is to me the most valuable."

     Warren out front oiling up the chair.

     Discussed the object of culture, W. using O'Connor as the "greatest instance" he knew of a man as I put it "equal to the best in books, yet up with nature's each new flush, withal." W. fervently: Yes indeed, all who knew William as I knew him will echo you on that."

     Writing today some verse, headed on the draft I saw: "The Soul Takes Flight for Good and All."


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.