In Whitman's Hand

Poetry Manuscripts

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[Leaf 1 recto]

^Italian Music in Dakota

By Walt Whitman
small type ¶ ["The Seventeenth—the finest Regimental Band I ever heard."]
[paper glued]
Through the soft evening air enwinding all,
Rocks, woods, fort, cannon, pacing sentries, ^endless wil[illegible] es,
Ray'd in the limpid, yellow slanting
From In dulcet strains, in flutes' & cornets' notes,
Ray'd in the limpid, yellow, slanting sundown;
Electric, pensive, turbulent, artificial,
[Leaf 1 verso]  
[Leaf 1 verso]  
(Yet ^strangely fitting thee, O nNature, even here—mean-
        ings unknown before,
Subtler than ever—more harmony—as if born
        here—related here,
[cut away]
[paper glued]
Not to the citys frescoed rooms—not to the
        audience of the opera house,
Sounds, songs, trills, wandering strains, as
        really home return'd here at home;
Sonnambula's innocent love—trios, with
        Norma's anguish,
And thy extatic c[o?]horus Poliuto;)
[paper glued]
Ray'd in the limpid, yellow slanting sundown,
Music—Italian music in Dakota.
[paper glued]
blank line
While Nature, sovereign of this
        gnarled realm,
Lurking in some his hidden, barbaric, grim
(Acknowledging rapport, however far‑removed,
(As some old root, or soil of earth, its
        own true-born flower or fruit,
Listens, well-pleased,
[Leaf 1 verso]  

This manuscript was likely composed between 1879 and 1881, after Whitman took a trip to the West (though not the Dakota Territory) and before the poem was published.
Editorial note
"Italian Music in Dakota" was published first in the 1881-82 edition of Leaves of Grass.

Leaf 1: Verso of manuscript leaf has a note, presumably in an archivist's hand, which reads "H.G. 194."

Leaf 2: Verso of manuscript leaf has a note, presumably in an archivist's hand, which reads "H.G. 194."

Notes written on manuscript
In right margin, in unknown hand: 534.
Italian Music in Dakota  |  Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Whitman Archive ID


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