Title: tainting the best
Creator: Walt Whitman
Date: Before or early in 1855
Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00524
Source: The Oscar Lion Papers, 1914–1955, New York Public Library, New York, N.Y. Transcribed from our own digital image of orginal manuscript. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the manuscripts, see our statement of editorial policy.
Editorial note: On the back of this leaf, Whitman drafted trial lines of the poem that was eventually titled "Song of Myself." Based on this and the handwriting, Edward Grier dates this manuscript to before or early in 1855 (Notebooks and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts [New York: New York University Press, 1984], 1:179).
Related items: This manuscript is glued to another manuscript that also features lines of prose. On the back of the leaf are draft lines of poetry. See nyp.00523.
Contributors to digital file: Kirsten Clawson, Janel Cayer, Kevin McMullen, Nicole Gray, and Kenneth M. Price
tainting the best of the rich orchard of himself . . . . and he who anyway does not respect his own organs and cherish them and strengthen them, and keep himself clean not only on his face but outside and inside—need not let that man young or old never de deceive himself with the folly that the bad sore stuff and the under is hid by the cloth he wears and his makes no avowal.—Though the secret is well hid, though the eye does not see, nor the hand touch, nor the nose smell, the rank odor strikes out