In Whitman's Hand

Poetry Manuscripts

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[Leaf 1 recto]


to the 4th Edition of Leaves of Grass.
[paper glued]
Small is the theme of the following
        Chant, yet the greatest—namely,
        One's‑Self—that wondrous thing, a
        simple, separate person. That, for the use
        of the New World, I sing.
[paper glued]
Man's physiology complete from top to toe I
        sing. Not physiognomy alone, nor brain alone,
        is worthy for the muse;—I say the Form
        complete is worthy far. The female,
        equally with the male I sing.
Of you, O friend, whoe'er you are, at
        last arriving hither to commence, I
        feel through every leaf the pressure of
        your hand, which I return. And thus
        upon our journey link'd together let us
[Leaf 1 verso]  

This manuscript was probably written about 1867, shortly before the publication of the 1867 edition of Leaves of Grass.
Editorial note
This manuscript is a draft of the first poem of the 1867 edition of Leaves of Grass, entitled "Inscription." In 1871 and later editions of Leaves of Grass, Whitman revised the poem, shortened it, and retitled it "One's-Self I Sing." In the 1888 volume November Boughs and in the final printing of Leaves of Grass, Whitman included both "One's-Self I Sing" and the original "Inscription" to the 1867 edition, ultimately appearing under the title "Small the Theme of My Chant."
The verso of the manuscript leaf has two small notes in an unknown hand, "Y35" and "H.G. 155." These are probably archivist markings, though their meaning is unknown.
Notes written on manuscript
In top margin, in unknown hand: 540.
In bottom margin, in unknown hand: H.G 155.
Inscription: to the 4th Edition of Leaves of Grass  |  Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Whitman Archive ID


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