In Whitman's Hand

Notebooks

About this Item

Title: you know how

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: 1855 or before

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00142

Source: Notebook LC #86 |  The Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1842–1937, 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: Because it comprises material that Whitman used in the first edition of Leaves of Grass, this notebook must date to sometime before mid-1855.

Emory Holloway has posited several connections between passages in this notebook and specific lines in the 1855 edition. Although some of these connections are dubious, the notebook's series of drafts about the effects of music are clearly related to what ultimately became section 26 of "Song of Myself." See Emory Holloway, ed., The Uncollected Poetry and Prose of Walt Whitman (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1921), 2:83–86.

Contributors to digital file: Ashley Price, Sandy Byrd, Kirsten Clawson, Nicole Gray, Kenneth M. Price, and Brett Barney



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As ^you know how the one brain includes those diverging and converging variety of beautiful wonders the perceptions or senses, and ^includes also what we call mind and the subtle faculties ^processes of thought and reason and causality, with ^also and an infinite variety else, so diverging and converging as to either enfold ^wind its fingers around the whole world or analyze make much of the finest thread of silk,in some suc or wind its fingers round the world.—


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Well the one obligation duty under which a man or woman ^is bound to himself or herself, is the enfolder or of all else every bit that follows.—O All That ^ our duty is the only love and ^independent, life living entire obligation.—^As small pipes from the aqueduct main The rest are par beautiful parts that flow out of it. If as small pipes from the aqueduct main though they come from not from it thence, are only so many

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dead and ghastly arms and or legs, ghastly p perhaps galvanised into ^a little motion, but having no connection with the vitality of from the lungs and heart—and taking no start thence. And these are what the world is calls its duties.

You have ^for instance heard ^been warned through your h whole life, week days and Sundays, of ^to pay your duty devoir to God.—I know of no such thing.—I know if it were the main matter, as under the name of [pray?] ^Religion the original and main matter. Really there is no such thing.—What is called such, even accepting the most florid and


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?

large description of it, is but one little item in the illimitable sum of that boundless ^account budget of which a man must should be ready to pay ^always balancing with his own sould

I can be

I can be I know nothing more melancholy dismal and bleak and shrunken ^ and shrivelled than

I have seen corpses sunken an shrunken and shrivelled—I have seen ^dismal mannikins of abortions, still‑births ? hideous


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and so small enough to that the he ^doctors preserved ^themin bottles—But no corpse have I t seen—no minnied abortion—that sem seems appears to ^me more more shrunken, away from comparison to the fullest muscular health of some fine giant—seems to me more more inert and shining and blue and fit for the swiftest burial—more pain painfully?

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dead and in the way of more awfully a corpse because a [some?] its heir a beautiful ^strong and perfect shaped and affectionate youth, in living strength and suppleness, stands there ready to take his horse room when the bier hearse carries the coffin defunct away—then all the whole and the best of what has been called for three times a thousand years over this great earth has been called, and is still called, Religion, seems to me in comparison

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with the ???? devotion worship ^extatic as the emb closest embraces of the god that made this globe it which was stronger than the propulsion of this globe in its—fiercer than the fires of the sun around which it t eternally swings—more faithful than the faith that keeps it in ^its company and place—divergent and vast as the space that lies beyond—which belongs to eve any well developed man. ^ loving and [as?] gentle as the in a sort worthy that immeasurable love and gentleness of that that is are the

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spark which is the great law whence spring the ^ laesser laws we call Nature's


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Of the Poet.

From each word, as from a womb, spring twenty babes that shall grow ^to giants and beget a larger and more surperber breeds upon the earth.

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Consecration of priests in Trinity Church—interlinking of hands.


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The life car—the ? to shoot the rope over the ship—the ? on which the life car runs—and the process of passing them ashore

He drinks up quickly All terms, all languages, and words. meanings.—To his curbless and bottomless powers, they are as be like the small ponds of rain water to the migrating herds of buffalo when they spread over occupy square miles and who make the earth ^[illegible] miles square. look like a creeping spread.—Look See! he has only passed this way, and they are drained dry.


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You break your arm, and a good surgeon sets it at and cures you complete; but nor no cure ever [illegible] avails for an organic disease of the heart.


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Most of the reforms of the world are Your mighty religious and political improvements—good enough as far as they go—are still but partial reforms— a good arm— back—a well shaped foot—a fine head of hair—a a good nice ear for music—or a ^peculiar faculty for engineering.

I would give you the entire health, ^both of mind spirit and flesh, the life of ^grace and strength and action, from which as from all else flows, as from an a never-failing spring.— It What I give you, I [illegible]know, cannot be argued about, and will not attract men's enthusiasms and interests


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*shall uncage in my breast a thousand [illegible] ^ armed great winged broad‑ wide‑winged strengths and unknown ardors and terrible extasies—putting me through the paces flights of all the passions—dilating me beyond time and space— air——startling me with the overture toof some unnamable horror—calmly sailing me all day on a broad bright river ^with lazy slapping waves——stabbing my heart with myriads of forked distractions more furious than hail or lightning—lulling me drowsily with honeyed opium morphinewrithing tight'ning the coils fakes of death about my throat, and awakening me again to know, by that comparison, the only most positive wonder in the world, and that's what we call life.

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I want that untied tenor, clean and fresh as the Creation, whose vast pure volume floods my soul. I want that tenor ^[large and fresh as the creation?] the [illegible] parting of whose ^[dark?] and orbed mouth shall [illegible] for me ^lift behind over my head the sluices of Paradise all ^the delight in the universe. that is I want that tenor, large and fresh as the creation, the ^orbed parting of whose orbed mouth shall lift over my head the sluices [illegible] of all the delight there is. yet discovered for our race. —I want the soprano that ^lithely overleaps the stars, and convulses me like the love‑grip of her in whose arms I lielay [illegible]last night.—I want a sublime an infinite chorus and orchestrium, wide as the orbit of the farthest stars Uranus ? reliable as immortality falling in truly true as the hours of ^the day, and night, and filling my capacityies to receive, as thoroughly as the sea fills its scooped out valleys. sands.— I want the chanted Hymn whose tremendous sentiment,

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*back

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shall put me through all the my paces and powers, uncage in my heart a thousand new strengths, and unknown ardors and terrible extasies—making me enter intrinsically into all passions—dilating me beyond time and space— soothing ^ lulling me away drawing with the sleep of honeyed ? — calmly sailing me down and down over down the broad deep sea river.——startling me with the overture of to some unnamable horror— tearing wrenching stabbing me with the wild elks horses of ^myriads of forked distractions that leap through my bossom [illegible]s more furious than hail hail and lightning.—that leap lulling me drowsily with [illegible] honeyed morphine opiumand uncaging waking in my heart all a thousand terrible new strengths and [illegible] ardors and ter extasies.—writhing around me the folds coils of collapsing death, and awakening me again to know, by that comparison, the only positive wonder in the world, and that's what we call life.—

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We I want the a sublime ? of Hymn out some vast chorus and orchestrium, whose strain is wide as the world, orbits of suns, reliable pure as Jesus and sweet as the kisses of Hea[ven?]^[runs out surpass?] immortality, and filling all my capacity to receive as ^[illegible] the sea fills scooped out valleys. tr +I want the boundless tenor that which swell clean and fresh as the Creation—whose vast pure volume floods my soul. I want the soprano that that thrills me like kisses of Heaven, that that ^over⹀leaps unfaltering to the stars.+

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For this huge harmony have you nothing to give us but one feeble note, and that a false one?

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The ox is too dtired—he rests standing

The attraction of gravity is the law under which you make your house plumb but that's not what the law is specially made for


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Acc't of the accident to Charly Phillips


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do not ^more than symbolize the reflection of the reflection, from of the spark from of a some tthrown off a spark, from a some coal in the some [illegible] emanation of some of those pettier attributes of God.—which we out the greatest Even these the greatest of the [illegible] great men of the world, can in their happier ^best moments


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Love, Reality, and Immortality and are the triune reins wherewith the Driver of the universe


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delicious as the kisses of God.—

All the ^ computation vastness of Astronomy—and space—systems of suns+++ [illegible] carried [illegible] in to ^their computation to the very bound farthest that figures will are able or that the broadest ? mathematical faculty can hold—and then multiplied in geometrical progression ten thousand million fold back


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even Though to this reflection the dazzle of unnumbered

All such vastness and reality does not satisfy the soul and shout worthy


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The air which furnishes me the breath to speak is subtle and boundless—but what is it compared th to the things it serves me to speak—the meanings—


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