In Whitman's Hand

Poetry Manuscripts

Table of Contents
Color Key

     
[Leaf 1 recto]

[A nation announcing itself]

A nation announcing itself,
I myself make the only growth by which I
        shall can be appreciated;
I reject none, receive all, reproduce all in modern
        forms.
 
A breed whose testimony is behaviour,
What we are, we are ... nativity is answer enough
        to all objections,
We wield ourselves as a weapon is wielded,
We are powerful and tremendous in ourselves,
We are executive by ourselves ... we are sufficient
        in the variety of ourselves,
We are the most beautiful to ourselves, and in ourselves,
Nothing is sinful to us outside of ourselves ... pious
Whatever or appears, whatever does not appear, we
        are beautiful or sinful in ourselves.—
 
[Leaf 1 verso]  
Asia
———
Steppes
the grass
———
the winter appearance—
—The Tartar life—nomadic pasturage, the herds—
the tabounshic or horse‑herd
taboon, a herd of horses,
The oxen—cows—women preparing milk
The I am a Russ, An arctic sailor traversing I traverse the sea of Kara
A Kamskatkan [drawn?] [on my?] slight‑built sledge, drawn by dogs
The ancient Hindostanee
        with his deeities—
The great old empires of India and
        Persia,—their That of Persia and its expeditions and
        conquests.—
The Sanskrit—the ancient poems
        and laws
The idea of gods incarnated by their avatars
        in men and women
The huge falling of the waters of
        the Ganges over the peaks high rim of
        Sankara
The poems descended safely to this day
        from poets of three thousand
        years ago.
It is indeed a strange voice!—

Date
The lines and notes on both the recto and the verso of this manuscript probably date from 1855 or 1856.
Editorial note
The recto of this manuscript contains draft lines that were published first under the title "Poem of Many in One" in the 1856 edition of Leaves of Grass. The poem was revised many times throughout Whitman's career and, in its final form, was titled "By Blue Ontario's Shore." The verso of this manuscript contains notes and draft lines that are related to a poem published first as "Poem of Salutation" in the 1856 edition of Leaves of Grass, and later as "Salut Au Monde!" Whitman's use of the word "tabounshic" is unusual. He used it (spelled "tabounschik") only in the 1855 and 1856 editions of Leaves of Grass in the poem that took for its final title "A Song for Occupations." In other respects, however, that poem does not appear to be related to these notes.
Location
A nation announcing itself  |  Trent Collection, Duke University.
Whitman Archive ID
duk.00030

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