Commentary

Disciples


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Friday, March 13, 1891

     5:40 P.M. I could see at once that W. was in no good condition. Eyes heavy—manner thick and unwieldy—voice husked. And this appeared to have been the case—had spent a bad night, with little rest. Had read Kimball's letter and written this on envelope:


I sh'd say (after reading this) go on & excerpt & make up the pieces from the Reports just the same. If necessary we will get our New Jersey MC (Senate or House) to get a full set of the Reports—but I think Mr. Kimball will join & help when it comes to the pinch.

W. W.


Saying now to me, "You were right in your view yesterday—he wants to assert his position. But no matter—see him, write him, and he'll come around. Or if he won't, we'll do the thing anyhow. Our Congressman here would without a doubt be glad to furnish us. But you will get around the difficulty. He is a vacillating purposeless kind of a man—has no rudder. William was his rudder. I have no question but if I could meet him I could wheedle him about my thumb, and you can do it as well. But these scamps are a nuisance, true." I suggested writing to Kimball—ignoring a great part of his letter—simply asking for the reports. W. assented, "Well, try that: I am sure you will provide yourself the best method and succeed at last."

     Commenting on the storms—the incessant rain, now on for days—W. says with melodic voice, "The old folks tell us, there is no storm but has an end at last: yes, at last!" —looking with ope-spread eye out upon the darkening day. Returned me the proofs I had left yesterday. I had rest of poetic pages with me. Necessary

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for him either to cut or add. I laughingly said, "Add, don't cut—let the divine genius descend upon you and ease your pen." He then, "I am sure it will come about all right: I usually find that my good demon does not nap in an emergency."

     He gave Warren the "Ship Ahoy!" poem today and asked him if a sailor would find anything to criticise in it—Warrie saying, "No."

     Someone had remarked that Harrison was "utterly and unspeakably a small man." W. laughed and said, "Don't we all repeat that—echo it? Yes, I guess we do—we do!" The World has been discussing Stedman's lecture, referring in one point to W. W.: Mr. STEDMAN ON POETRY

From the New York World, March 8.
The other day Mr. Edmund C. Stedman undertook to answer the question, "What is Poetry?" His audience consisted of the faculty and students of Johns Hopkins University.

Giving a definition of anything is difficult enough, but fixing the exact meaning of such an evanescent and spiritual art as that of poetry is something quite as far beyond human power as is the translation into articulate speech of the inspiration of the stars on a clear frosty night when their glories are at their best....

The poet, perhaps, cannot be any more clearly defined than he was by Mr. Stedman. He must have insight, emotion, passion, perception of beauty, and he must express himself in words, in a language that has wings and is rhythmical. Other men than those who satisfy this definition have poetical feeling, but as Mr. Stedman says, there must be poetical expression. The art lies in the form. Walt Whitman has produced some noble poetry, but he has covered up very much nobler poetical thoughts in a crude and barbarous contempt of form which happily has not had and is not likely to have a successful imitator. There can be no singing without either harmony or melody....


W. had not seen but said he had "been looking with the best eyes" he had to "see if the papers would mention the lectures at all."


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     Wrote in proofs I received from him today: "Will send you a batch—perhaps the whole—of the prose stuff (copy)—Monday morn'g next. Will make about 16 pages—all long primer."

     Bush alludes to a Whitman convert in letter of 11th.


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