In Whitman's Hand

Poetry Manuscripts

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leaf 1 recto

America to Old-World Bards

A reminiscence from reading Walter Scott
 
 
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The The [Am?] [qu?] imported ancient ballad reciting, ending
Once, America, gazing I gazing toward thee, ^Mother of all,
Musing, seeking as ever the themes of thee,
Thank ^well for me, thou saidst, before thou goest
        the old bards
Speak Name out the word for me acknowledging each
        ancient past gone singers.r.
I too receive them with perfect hospitality.
Well-pleased, accepting all, ^curiously prepared for,
 
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(Of many depbts incalculable
Haply the ^New World's chiefest debts debt
        is to past poets ? poems.)
 
 
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Unwittingly for thee ^Far back Preluding thee, America ^America,
First Egyp chants, Egyptian priests and those of
        Ethiopia
The Hindu epics, the Grecian, the Chinese, and the
        Persian,
The Biblic books and prophets, the beauteous
        deep idylls of the Nazarene,
The Iliad, Odyssey, ^plots, doings, wanderings of Eneas,
Hesiod Eschylus, Sophocles, Merlin, Arthur,
 
 
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These as a mighty great As some great shadowy group, ^gathering around
[paper glued]
Launching, long-darting, Darting m a their mighty
        many crowding masterful eyes ^forward at thee
Thee Thou with ^as now thy ben thy thy bending head [an?]
        neck and head
        with courteous hand &workd word
[paper glued]
        [paus?]
        pausing
Thee Thou, as pausing for a moment, ^bending thine drop'st thine eyes
        observing on them ^the past, enterest ing at
        thy entrance-porch.
Preluding thee America
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leaf 5 verso

Date
This manuscript was probably composed in autumn, 1890 as is suggested by the postmarks on the envelopes on which it is written. The order of the manuscript leaves has been derived from the published poem.
Editorial note
This poem was revised and published under the title "Old Chants," first in the New York Truth, March 19, 1891.
The leaves that comprise this manuscript are five opened-up envelopes and one cancelled letter written to Whitman from J. Harry Schneller, Jr. The verso envelopes and letter are all dated September through October, 1890.
Location
America to Old-World Bards  |  The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839-1919, Library of Congress, Washington, DC..
Whitman Archive ID
loc.00047

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