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About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman's New Book

Creator: Charles E. Shepard [unsigned in original]

Date: November 11, 1881

Publication information: The Long-Islander 11 November 1881: 3.

Source: The electronic text for this file was prepared by Whitman Archive staff, who transcribed the text from a representation of the original (e.g., digital scan or other electronic reproduction, microfilm copy).

Whitman Archive ID: anc.02076

Contributors to digital file: Kirsten Clawson, Nicole Gray, Elizabeth Lorang, and Kenneth M. Price


Walt Whitman's New Book.1

A good many folks in middle Long Island, especially Huntington, West Hills (where Walt Whitman was born), Cold Spring and down at Babylon, where he lived as boy and young man, will no doubt take special interest in the fact that the new book of his completed poems, "Leaves of Grass" has just been published by James R. Osgood & Co. of Boston, in a handsome 382 page volume, price $2. There are about three hundred pieces all composed in the free and capricious measure so peculiar to Whitman (entirely unlike poetry as generally written), and which few people will like at first sight, whatever they may do after studying it well out.

Mr. Whitman was here in Huntington last summer and it is said intends coming again next season. He is crippled from paralysis, is now in his 63d year; he still writes, lectures, gives readings from his works and travels moderately. The Boston Herald says of his poems:

"One of the great features of Walt Whitman is that he does not seek his ideals in faraway times, which, stripped of their glamor of remoteness, are but as the times of to-day; for in supreme moments, he idealizes the common-place, and has the clearness of vision that discerns the gleam of gold through all the accumulated dross.

The large and magnificent tolerance that includes all and allows all, and finds a place for all, is a sublime characteristic of the man. There is much in these lines that cannot be packed into layers of equal length. The book teems with the ecstacy of being. The statement of details into which the poet now and then drops has been criticised as "cataloguing." But viewed with the poet’s intention, what a mosaic picture of the people, of the nation and its races, is thus constituted! One sees the stir and hears the hum of the entire land; feels the pulse of the multitude. What is the use of attempting to depict such a thing—it can't all be shown. But the effect is like a gleam of sunshine in the depths of a forest; it reveals many things with vivid distinctness; there is a vast reserve of hidden things which might be seen, but enough is shown to tell what is there—to give the character of the place.

The new edition contains all his poems; the only changes that have been made are in the way of condensation of utterance. There are, also, something like 20 new poems printed direct from the manuscript. There is more of a rounding and completeness of the work; the all-embracing patriotism which forms one of the poet’s grandest characteristic is more comprehensive than ever before manifested."

FROM WALT WHITMAN'S NEW BOOK.
PATROLING BARNEGAT.

Wild, wild the storm, and the sea high running,
Steady the roar of the gale, with incessant under-tone muttering,
Shouts of demoniac laughter fitfully piercing and pealing,
Waves, air, midnight, their savagest trinity lashing,
Out in the shadows there, milk-white combs careering,
On beachy slush and sand, spirts of snow fierce slanting,
Where, through the murk, the easterly death-wind breasting,
Through cutting swirl and spray, watchful and firm advancing,
(That in the distance! is that a wreck? is the red signal flaring?)
Slush and sand of the beach, tireless till daylight wending,
Steadily, slowly, through hoarse roar never remitting,
Along the midnight edge, by those milk-white combs careering,
A group of dim, weird forms, struggling, the night confronting,
That savage trinity warily watching.

Notes:

1. It is likely this review was written by Charles E. Shepard, who was editor and proprietor of The Long-Islander at the time of publication. [back]


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