In Whitman's Hand

Poetry Manuscripts

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[Leaf 1 recto]
sent to Alden Oct 18 '90 100 ask'd
rejected all return'd

The Unexpress'd.

How dare one say it?
After the cycles, poems, singers, plays,
Vaunted Ionia's, India's—Homer, Shakspere—
        all old times' thick‑dotted roads, areas,
The ^shining clusters and the Milky Ways of stars—
        rhythm's, Nature's pulses ^all reap'd,
All retrospective passions, heros, war, love,
All ages' plummets dropt to the utmost
All human lives, throats, ^wishes, brains, hopes—all
        experiences risen to arrived at utterance,
All After the good songs, or long or short, all tongues, all lands,
But ^Then something yet unsung—not yet put in
         ^poesy's voice or print—something lacking,
(May-be the best yet unexpress'd and lacking.)
                                                Walt Whitman
[Leaf 1 verso]  

This manuscript was likely composed in 1889 or 1890. Whitman's note at the top of the page says he sent the poem to Alden in October of 1890. He may have begun composing the poem more than a year before as is suggested by a different draft of this poem (in the Feinberg Collection at the Library of Congress) written on the back of a letter dated September 25, 1889.
Editorial note
"The Unexpress'd" was published first in Lippincott's Magazine in March 1891.
The verso has three pencil markings in an unknown hand: The number "25" is written in both the upper right corner and at the bottom, and "H.G. 190" is in the lower right corner.
Notes written on manuscript
In left margin, in unknown hand: 532.
In bottom margin, in unknown hand: H. G—190.
The Unexpress'd  |  Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Whitman Archive ID


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