Title: Outdoors is the best
Creator: Walt Whitman
Date: Before or early in 1855
Whitman Archive ID: duk.00297
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: This manuscript's description of the appeal of the outdoors and of physical laborers who work outdoors is similar to ideas found throughout the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass, particularly in lines from the poem that would later be titled "Song of Myself." This suggests a date before or early in 1855. In his transcription of this manuscript, Richard Maurice Bucke included an additional line at the end, which may have since been clipped off. With this addition, the final sentence would read: "Their indefinable excellence gives out something as much beyond the special productions of colleges and pews and parlors as the morning air of the prairie or the sea-shore outsmells the costliest scents of the perfume shop" (Notes and Fragments [London, Ontario: A. Talbot & Co., printers, 1899], 152).
Related item: Edward Grier claims that this manuscript was at one time pinned together with another manuscript (Notebooks and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts [New York: New York University Press, 1984], 1:169). See duk.00296.
Contributors to digital file: Robert LaCosse, Kirsten Clawson, Janel Cayer, Kevin McMullen, Nicole Gray, Kenneth M. Price, and Brett Barney
Outdoors is the best antise[ptic] yet.—What a [cha]rm there is about in men that have lived main[ly?] [cut away] the open air—among horses—at sea—on the [ca]nals—digging clams—cutting timber timberers—rafting, rafters, or steamboating.ers, or house framers of houses,—and mechanics generally.—Cleanerly shaved and more grammatical folks I call Mister, and lay the tips of my fingers inside their elbows as after the orthodox fashion, and discuss whatever had the biggest headline in the morning papers, and pass the time as comfortably as the law allows.—But for the others, my arm leans over their shoulders, and around their necks.—In them nature justifies herself;—and In in tTheir indefinable excellence giving gives us out something as superior to all much above beyond the ^special productions [cut away]