In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: med Cophósis

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Between 1852 and 1854

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00005

Source: Women |  The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Transcribed from digital images of the original. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the notebooks, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: These pages were written by Whitman in the early to mid-1850s. William White described the pages as "torn from a tall notebook" (Daybooks and Notebooks [New York: New York University Press, 1978], 773–777). White noted a relationship between these pages and the poems "Who Learns My Lesson Complete?," "By Blue Ontario's Shore," "Song of the Answerer," and "There Was a Child Went Forth." Some of the ideas and language being worked out here also appear in the poem that would be titled "Song of Myself." For a discussion of the dating and importance of this notebook, see Matt Miller, Collage of Myself: Walt Whitman and the Making of Leaves of Grass (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2010), 11–16.

Contributors to digital file: Nicole Gray, Eric Conrad, Joshua Matthews, Amy Hezel, Kenneth M. Price, and Brett Barney

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med Cophósis, g deafness, dumbness, or dulness of any sense.
med Cōpos, gr a morbid lassitude
Sensorium, the seat of sensation, doubtless the brain
Liaison (lē-a-zohn), a binding or fastening together

Because women do not appear in history and philosophy with any thing like the same prominence as men—that is no reason for thinking them less than men:—The great names that we know are but the accidental scraps.—Mention to me the twenty grea most majestic characters that have existed upon the earth, and have their names recorded.—It is very well.—But for that twenty, there are millions upon millions just as great, whose names are unrecorded.—It was in them to do grander actions as grand—to say as beautiful thoughts—to set the examples for their race.—But ^in each one the book was not opened.—It lay in its place ready

The greatest and truest knowledge can never be taught or passed over from him or her who has it, to him or her who has it not.—It is in the soul.—It is not susceptible of proof or demon explanation.—It applies to all things and encloses them.—All that there is in what The enti What men think enviable, if it were ^could be collected together for ten thousand years, would not be of the least account, compared with this wisdom.—It is the sight of the consciousness of the reality and excellence of every thing.—It is happiness.—Every Each man ^and every each woman is eligible to it, without education just the as readily as with whoever reads these words, let him or her set out upon the search this day, and never rest till

My Lesson

Have you learned the my lesson complete:

It is well—it is ^but the gate to a larger lesson—and And that to another^: still

And every one each successive one opens to another still


Poem "Praise of things"

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* down

spór-a-des, scattered islands, stars, &c

Novel?—Work of some sort ^Play?—instead of sporadic characters—introduce them in large masses, on a far grander scale—armies—twenty-three full-formed perfect athletes—[illegible]orbs—take characters through the orbs—"spiritualism"

nobody appears upon the stage singly—but all in huge aggregates

nobody speaks alone—whatever is said, is said by an immense number

Shade—An ^twenty-five old men old man with rapid gestures—eyes black and flashing like lightning—long white beard—attended by an immense train—no warriors or warlike weapons or helmets—all emblematic of peace—shadowy—rapidly approaches and pauses sweeping by—

if in a play—let the descriptions not that are usually put in brief, in brackets, in italic, be also in poetry, carefully finished as the dialogue

The answerer

Plot for a Poem or other work—A manly unpretensive philosopher—without any of the old insignia, such as age, books eth etc.—a fine-formed person, of beautiful countenance, &c—sits every day at the door of his house—To him for advice come all sorts of people.—Some come to puzzle him—some come from curiosity—some from ironical contempt—his answers—his opinions

¶ 2 A man appears in public every day— Every time he appears with a companion—one day it is a beautiful youth—another time with a voluptuous woman—another time with a poor pale emaciated sick person, whom he has brought out for a little air—another

☞ good subject Poem—Variety of characters, each one of whom comes forth every day—things appearing, transfers and promotions every day.

There was a child went forth every day—and the first thing that he saw looked at with fixed love, that thing he became for the day.—

* Bring in whole races, or castes, or generations, to express themselves—personify the general objects of the creation and give them voice—every thing on the most august scale—a leaf of grass, with its equal voice.—

☞—voice of the generations of slaves—of those who have suffered—voice of Lovers.—of Night—Day—Space—the stars—the countless ages of the Past—the countless ages of the future—

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(a spiritual novel?

Man's Muscular capability. Phren. Jour. vol 7, page 96

A tradition—that to eat the meat of serpents is restorative and helps longevity

In writing, the same taste and law as in personal demeanor—that is never to strain, or exhibit the least apparent desire to make stick out the pride, grandeur and boundless richness—but to be those, and let the spirit of them vitalize whatever is said

In writing, give no second hand articles—no quotations—no authorities—give the real thing—ready money—


A poem in which all things and qualities and processes express themselves—the nebula—the fixed stars—the earth—the grass, waters, vegetable, sauroid, and all processes—man—animals.


Can a man be wise without he get wisdom from the books?

Can he be religious and have nothing to do with churches or prayers?

Can he have a great style, without being dressed in fine clothes and without any name or fame?

In writing, every thing is to be brought in in its human relations—this invariably.—It is not needful that this should be made tpalpable to all ages—but it must be, and it must act supreme in all the plot or course of writing.—


A large stone cavity, exactly cut out—in this is placed a man—he has plenty to eat—he has whatever he asks for—money unbounded is around him—but there he lives—he walks around carrying with him that portable impenetrable stone coffin.—


"String team"—the horses,—three, four, or five—in single file, without curb or bit, that draw the cars, or other vehicles—the peculiar manner of calling to 'em and directing them—"Black Jack's" illustrations of the way of guiding them—

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You are one of The common statesman thinks of men as people to be governed—thinks a government a great thing in itself—takes much care about checks and balances—offices—&c.—

You are The common philosopher maps out his system, fortifies it by powerful argument—proves how it is true—how much better than all that the rest of its rivals—&c.

Do not fancy [illegible] that I have come to descend among you, gentlemen—I encompass you all

A rule or two invariable in personal and literary demeanor.—Never to complain of any attacks or harsh criticisms upon myself, or my writings—never to defend either by a single word or argument—never to deprecate any one's enmity or opposition—nor vindicate myself.—Not to suppose or recognize th as a possible occurrence, that it can be necessary for me to prove I am right and or great clean.—


It is only the common ambition that is satisfied with the eminence that comes from wealth or office.—Far above these is the eminence of personal qualities—a grand presence—wit—conversational power—that charm, we don't know what it is, which goes with the mere face and body ^magnetism of some men and women, and makes every body love them, wherever they go.—Even the movement of one's limbs, and the gestures of the hands are great can fascinate.—But all That which comes from the mere possession of riches, is little.—It is rather a blur upon the highest action; it is forms of humanity

A Crayons in brief

an illustration.^Socrates, sauntering through the market place, attracted by the princely youth of Athens—cross-questioning—his big paunch—his bare feet—his subtle tongue—


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