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Title: My Canary Bird

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: March 2, 1888

Publication information: New York Herald 2 March 1888: 6.

Source: Our transcription is based on a digital image of a microfilm copy of the original

Whitman Archive ID: per.00117

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, April Lambert, and Susan Belasco




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MY CANARY BIRD.1

TO THE EDITOR OF THE HERALD:

Did we count great, O soul to penetrate the
themes of mighty books,
Absorbing deep and full from thoughts, plays,
speculations?
But now from thee to me, caged bird, to feel
the joyous warble
Filling the air, the lonesome room, the long
forenoon,
Is it not just as great, O soul?2
WALT WHITMAN.

Notes:

1. Reprinted in the "Sands at Seventy" annex to Leaves of Grass (1888). [back]

2. This poem is likely the one Whitman mentions in a letter to Richard Maurice Bucke on February 16, 1888: "it is chilly here as I finish this—my little bird sits hunch'd up in a lump, & sings not—but spring weather is coming & early summer & I will write a little poem ab't it to warm me up." For the full letter, see Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., The Correspondence (New York: New York University Press, 1969), 4: 151. [back]


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