Title: How gladly we leave
Creator: Walt Whitman
Date: Before or early in 1855
Whitman Archive ID: duk.00296
Source: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Transcribed from digital images of the original. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the manuscripts, see our statement of editorial policy.
Editorial note: The description of "boatmen" with "trowsers tucked in their boots" in this manuscript appears to be related to lines in the opening poem of the 1855 Leaves of Grass, eventually titled "Song of Myself": "The boatmen and clamdiggers arose early and stopped for me, / I tucked my trowser-ends in my boots and went and had a good time." The phrase "real men and women refreshing, hearty, and wicked" probably led to the following line, which occurs later in the same poem: "Ever myself and my neighbors, refreshing and wicked and real." These connections suggest a date before or early in 1855.
Related item: Edward Grier claims that this manuscript was at one time pinned together with another manuscript that describes the appeal of the outdoors and the appeal of physical laborers who work outdoors (Notebooks and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts [New York: New York University Press, 1984], 1:169). See duk.00297.
Contributors to digital file: Robert LaCosse, Kirsten Clawson, Janel Cayer, Kevin McMullen, Nicole Gray, Kenneth M. Price, and Brett Barney
¶ How gladly we leave ^the best of what is called learned and refined society, or the company of lawyers and book-factors and men withfrom stores and offices ^from [even?] the best of what is called intellectual society to sail all day on the river withamid a party of pilots and fresh and jovial boatmen, with no coats or suspenders, and their trowsers tucked in their boots.—What polkas are danced ^Then How the ^quick blood within us joins other ^their gay blood and ^the twain dances swift polkas from the top to the bottom to the top of the houses, when, ? after long constraint in the respectable and money-making dens of existence, we a man emerges for a few hours intofor a few hours ^and comes up like a whale to spout and breathe!—One glimpse then of the eternallyl into the free and beautiful realities of the worl [illegible]things—the real sun, burning and dazzling—the old, forever yyoung and solid earth—real men ^and women refreshing, strong ^hearty, and wicked.—