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About this Item

Title: The United States to Old World Critics

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: May 8, 1888

Publication information: New York Herald 8 May 1888: 6.

Source: Our transcription is based on a digital image of a microfilm copy of an original issue.

Whitman Archive ID: per.00125

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




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The United States to Old World Critics.1

Here first the duties of to-day, the lessons of
the concrete,
Wealth, order, travel, shelter, products, plenty,
As of the building of some varied, vast, per-
petual edifice,
Whence to arise inevitable in time, the tower-
ing roofs, the lamps,
The solid planted spires tall shooting to the
stars.2
WALT WHITMAN.

Notes:

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

2. In the 1880s, a number of English critics were interested Whitman, including Matthew Arnold, Robert Buchanan, Thomas Carlyle, and Oscar Wilde (see Leaves of Grass, Comprehensive Reader's Edition, ed. Harold W. Blodgett and Sculley Bradley [New York: New York University Press, 1965]). On April 18, 1888, the Herald printed a short piece by Whitman on the death of Arnold in which the poet proclaims Arnold will not be missed a great deal in the United States. When "The United States to Old World Critics" appeared in the Herald, less than a month after Arnold's death, Whitman asked Traubel what the poem meant to him. Following Traubel's response, and his indication that the meaning came to him immediately, Whitman concluded, "Good! then the poem is better than I believed" (Traubel 1: 120). [back]


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