In Whitman's Hand

Poetry Manuscripts

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leaf 1 recto

[Aye, well I know 'tis ghastly to descend]

Aye, well I know 'tis ghastly to descend
        that f valley:
Preachers, musicians, poets, painters, always render it,
Philosophs exploit—the battle‑field, the ship at
        sea, the myriad beds, all lands,
All, all the past have enter'd, the ancientest
        humanity we know,
Syria's, India's, Egypt's, Greece's, Rome's;
Till now for us under our very eyes spreading
        the same to‑day,
Grim, ready ^for our eyes, for entrance, yours and mine, ^our eyes,
Here, here 'tis limned.
Yet, [cut away]

This manuscript was probably composed in 1889, shortly after Whitman received a request from H. M. Alden, editor of Harper's, to write a poem to accompany a painting by George Inness entitled "The Valley of the Shadow of Death."
Editorial note
This manuscript is a rejected linegroup from the poem "Death's Valley," which was published first in Harper's New Monthly Magazine in April, 1892.
Death's Valley 1889 A.Ms drafts  |  The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
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