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About this Item

Title: Harper's Weekly Magazine

Creator: Susan Belasco

Publication information: Written for the Walt Whitman Archive. First published on the Archive in 2008.

Whitman Archive ID: per.00162

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Susan Belasco, and Kevin McMullen


Whitman wrote one of his most popular poems, "Beat! Beat! Drums!," shortly after the first battle of Bull Run in July 1861. The piece, often called a "mobilization poem because of its call to arms, was first published in Harper’s Weekly. The "Journal of Civilization," as the masthead proclaimed, was established in 1857 and became famous for its coverage of the Civil War, especially its lavish illustrations. In some of his letters to his mother, Whitman occasionally included copies of the Weekly so that she could enjoy illustrations of Abraham Lincoln or the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. But Harper's Weekly also published literature and readers enjoyed the works of a variety of British and American writers, including Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Anthony Trollope, Henry James, Williams Dean Howells, and John Greenleaf Whittier. In the late 1880s, Whitman wrote a number of short poems, frequently about public occasions or events, which he hoped to sell to magazines and newspapers in order to earn extra income. When former president and war hero Ulysses S. Grant was dying, Whitman was invited by the editors of Harper’s Weekly to submit a poem about him. Whitman sent "As One by One Withdraw the Lofty Actors," a poem about Grant and others who were important to the Civil War, and received $30.00 in payment. Whitman's other poem published in the Weekly, "Bravo, Paris Exposition," was rejected first by both the New York Herald and New York World. This poem, for which Whitman received $10.00, commemorates the Paris Exposition, which ran from May 6 through November 6, 1889.

Bibliography

Loving, Jerome. Walt Whitman: The Song of Himself. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.

Mott, Frank Luther. A History of American Magazines, 1850–1865. Vol. 2. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1938.

Myerson, Joel. Walt Whitman: A Descriptive Bibliography. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1993.

Whitman, Walt. The Correspondence. Edited by Edwin Haviland Miller. Vol. 2. New York: New York University Press, 1961.

Whitman, Walt. Daybooks and Notebooks. Edited by William White. Vol. 2. New York: New York University Press, 1978.

Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass: Comprehensive Reader's Edition. Edited by Harold W. Blodgett and Sculley Bradley. New York: New York University Press, 1965.

Poems

"Beat! Beat! Drums!." Harper's Weekly, 28 September 1861, 623

"As One by One Withdraw the Lofty Actors." Harper's Weekly, 16 May 1885, 310

"Bravo, Paris Exposition!." Harper's Weekly, 28 September 1889, 774


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