In Whitman's Hand

Poetry Manuscripts

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[Leaf 1 recto]
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[To limn the stately and the]

To limn the stately and the
        beautiful—to emulate at will

Had I the Choice

Had I the choice to tally greatest bards
To limn the their ^portraits stately, and the beautiful— ^—the power to
        emulate at will
[at least several words cut away]
Homer with all his wars and loftiest
        warriors—Hector, Achilles, Ajax,
Or Shakspere's woe‐envelop'd entangled Hamlet,
        Lear, Othello—Tennyson's fair
Metre, or wit the best, or choice con-
        ceit ^to wield, or fin perfect rhyme, triumph delight
        of singers
Had I Had I ^indeed the choice the choice These, these, O sea, all these of living winds.
        all, all theose I'd gladly barter
Could Would you the undulation of your one wave, its trick to me transfer
WCould Could you but breathe one one breath upon
        my this verse,
And leave its odor there.

This manuscript was likely written in 1885 shortly before the poem's publication.
Editorial note
"Had I the Choice" was first published in the "Fancies at Navesink" sequence in the August 1885 issue of Nineteenth Century.
Notes written on manuscript
In left margin, 6
In left margin, 6
Had I the Choice  |  Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
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