In Whitman's Hand

Poetry Manuscripts

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[Leaf 1 recto]

[The three or four poets are well]

[Begin hashmark section]
The great three or four poets ^of the stretch of the are well . . . . the wellknown
        names of leaders and inventors . . . .
        the rich owners and the ^pious and distinguished; —may be well,?
But what are of all the rest?—Are Is there
        none of account but ^of poets and the distinguished
        and the [deletion, illegible] theowners ^and pious? ?
Are the ignorant and wicked nothing?
Are the interminable races hordes of Asia and
        Africa nothing
Are the [about two letters deleted; illegible] common people of Europe
        and America nothing?
Are the American aborigines nothing?
Are Is the a zZambo and the or a ^foreheadless cCrowfoot
        or the a Camanche nothing?
Is the a wretched young polluted man, thievish, —a thief,
        uneducated, polluted, rank, swiftly
        dying with the polluting rank sickness, nothing?
Is the Are the infected in the immigrant
        hospital nothing?
Are the perpetual successions of
        shallow persons and frivolous persons nothing?
[End hashmark section]
[Leaf 1 verso]  
a TG 2 get— P[deletion, illegible] description of [deletion, illegible] Chr
Poem—a perfect school,
        gymnastic, moral, mental and
        sentimental,—in which
        magnificent men are formed
        —old persons come just as
        much as youth—gymnastics,
        physiology, music, swimming bath
        —large saloons adorned with
        pictures and sculpture—great ideas
        not taught in sermons but imbibed
        as health is imbibed—
        —love—love of woman—all manly exercises
        —riding, rowing—the greatest persons
        come—the president comes and
        the governors come—political economy
        —the American idea in all its
        amplitude and comprehensiveness—
        —grounds, gardens, flowers, grains—
        cabinets—old history taught—

The lines beginning "The three or four poets are well" were probably drafted in 1853 or 1854, just before the first publication of Leaves of Grass (1855). "Poem—a perfect school" was probably written in the 1850s also.
Editorial note
"The three or four poets are well" are draft lines of the third poem, entitled "Leaves of Grass," in Leaves of Grass (1855). It became "Burial Poem" in 1856, "Burial" in 1860 and 1867, and took its final title, "To Think of Time," in 1871. The poem outlined in "Poem—a perfect school" was apparently never written.
The three or four poets are well  |  Walt Whitman Ephemera, University of Tulsa.
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