Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Rudolf Schmidt to Walt Whitman, 17 July 1875

Date: July 17, 1875

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01914

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: The annotation, "Rud. Schmidt July 17, '75 Ans. July 31.," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Eder Jaramillo, Ashley Lawson, John Schwaninger, Caterina Bernardini, Marie Ernster, Amanda J. Axley, and Stephanie Blalock

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Berka an der Ilm,
17 Juli 1875.

My dear Walt Whitman,

I write you these lines from a little village two miles from Weimar, where I have visited the Tombs of Goethe1 and Schiller2 and felt all the great recollection awaken. I have had a great deal of toilsome labour this spring and now I am seeking refreshment between the pines of Thüringerwald, living among a very amiable and childlike population. The Germans dont understand their deeds after all. Preussen is the iron crest of this huge and soft German body; but the body is so soft indeed, that one should think, there were no bones in it.

If the language did not impact my fancy and ideas I should have a great deal to tell you. Let these lines shortly tell you, that you have been remembered in the metropole of German geniuses, and send some lines to the old [illegible] 16 with information of your state of health.

Hoping the best I am your Danish friend
Rudolf Schmidt

The Danish writer Peter Carl Rudolf Schmidt (1836–1899) was the editor of the idealist journal For Idé og Virkelighed ("For Idea and Reality") and had translated Whitman's Democratic Vistas into Danish in 1874.


1. The German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) was famous for The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774) and Faust (1808), in which Faust sells his soul to the devil. [back]

2. Johann Christoph Friedrich Schiller (1759–1805) was a German philosopher, poet, and playwright. [back]


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