Commentary

Contemporary Reviews

About this Item

Title: [Review of November Boughs]

Creator: unknown [unsigned in original]

Date: January 26, 1889

Publication information: The London Echo 26 January 1889: 1.

Source: The original electronic text for this file was prepared for Walt Whitman, The Contemporary Reviews, ed. Kenneth M. Price (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), and the transcription was completed by consulting a representation of the original (e.g., photocopy, microfilm copy). Following publication of that volume, Price received an updated transcription file from Cambridge University Press, and the Whitman Archive has used the final file from the publisher as the basis for the electronic text presented here.

Whitman Archive ID: anc.00125

Contributors to digital file: Natalie O'Neal, Elizabeth Lorang, Vanessa Steinroetter, and Todd Stabley


One other book from America. Walt Whitman's "November Boughs," a story of the poet's life, has been published by Mr. Gardner, of Paternoster-row. Written in the poet's declining years, it is imbued with the sanguine, generous faith in man which characterised his youth. In which respect he differs considerably from his English brother poet—who should have been done with Amy's cousin where he left him nearly half a century before. These November Boughs are a fascinating and most suggestive record of the history of a mind—for of external effect and event there is but little, save the poet's experiences in the great Civil War, the drama of which it was that first made Whitman poetically vocal. In his talk about his reading habits when a boy—reading his Shakespeare, Homer, Dante, Bible—in scenes appropriate to them, there are some delightful passages and expressions that haunt the memory—as when he tells us how he studied Dante in "an old wood." The subject is by far too complex for treatment in a paragraph; and we can only say that orthodox critics may, quite possibly, reconsider their judgment of him after they have read the poet's own explanation of how his choice of theme determined the form of expression—justified his rejection of the old-world restraints of rhyme and metre. You may or may not call Whitman a poet—the poet of Democracy—but, if not a poet, he is a prophet of the new time.


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