Title: It is the endless delusion
Creator: Walt Whitman
Date: 1855 or earlier
Whitman Archive ID: duk.00800
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 prose manuscript includes a thought similar to one from the poem that would eventually be titled "Song of Myself." Whitman writes that "The noble soul steadily rejects any liberty or privilege or wealth that is not open on the same terms to every other man and every other woman." This idea is phrased more memorably in the first poem in the 1855 edition of Leaves—"By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms" (29)—suggesting a date for the manuscript of 1855 or earlier.
Related item: On the back of this manuscript is a crossed-out draft of lines of poetry.
Contributors to digital file: Kirsten Clawson, Nicole Gray, Kevin McMullen, Kenneth M. Price, and Brett Barney
It is the perpetual endless delusion of the big and little smouchers, of the at in all their varieties, circumstances and degre what-not of their greedines whether usurping the rule of an empire, or thieving a negro and selling him,—or slyly pocketing a roll of rolled ribbon from the counter whatever and whichever any of the ways in which ^that legislators, lawyers, and the priests and [the?] educated ^and pious, classes, under the prefer certain ^ political a advantages to themselves, over equal the vast armies retinues of the [poor?] the laboring, ignorant men, black men, sinners, [and?] so on—to suppose that they have succeded when the documents are signed and sealed, and they enter in possession of their gains.—^ These Shallow Ddriblets ? of a ? day! ! you [open?] are worse ^ shallower less in your their high success, than the lowest dullest of those you have the [visions?] people they would overtopped.—[I?] If there be Whatever it be, liberty wea or wealth or knowledge privilege
The noble soul sternly always steadily rejects any [any?] [any?] [liberty?] or favor that or privilege of or wealth that is not equall open on the same terms to every other man and every other woman on the face of the