Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Carl Falkenreck to Walt Whitman, 7 May 1890

Date: May 7, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02053

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.

Contributors to digital file: Kirby Little, Ian Faith, Blake Bronson-Bartlett, and Stephanie Blalock

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298 So 2d St.
Brooklyn E. D.
May 7, '90

Walt Whitman
My dear Friend

How best can I introduce myself to you? How can I make myself known & liked by you who so well-known and loved by me.

When we call on folks & wish to make a good impression we don our best clothes, make our best bow tell our politest lie & the thing's done.

But to you, who likes naked flesh better than broadcloth, a warm grasp, a close embrace better than a fancy bow, the truth harsh and sonorous better than tinkling lies—to you I can't simper and smirk.

I love you! I claim you for a friend! I hold you tight! sometimes you strangely elude me! A few times you speak unkindly, worse you speak sometimes in an unknown tongue but yet you comfort and cheer me!

I read your "Specimen Days"1 first and liked them. I liked the chatty, shrewd, kindhearted old friend who chaperoned me through the war & all over the States. And then I read the Leaves of Grass and met my dearest friend! Didn't and don't yet half understand it all except that it breathes & lives & like all things that live and breath it has much of mystery & miracle about it all through. (After its only dead things that are dissectable)

Many things more I want to say but haven't words for now. Little things are the easiest to say always and of those I have but few for Walt Whitman. I will write again if my disjointed rhapsodies are bearable and I hope to come down and see you very shortly if your health permits you to see people.

And now dear friend and teacher have I spoken at all into words that are clear? If so Walt Whitman knows his

affectionate friend
Carl Falkenreck.

Little is known about Carl Falkenreck of Brooklyn. He was involved in Republican politics, published at least one poem in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, and was a member of The Amerian Life Saving Society, that provided instruction and assistance on such topics as water and boat safety and first aid.


1. The first issue of Whitman's Specimen Days and Collect was published by the Philadelphia firm of Rees Welsh and Company in 1882. The second issue was published by David McKay. Many of the autobiographical notes, sketches, and essays that focus on the poet's life during and beyond the Civil War had been previously published in periodicals or in Memoranda During the War (1875–1876). For more information on Specimen Days, see George Hutchinson and David Drews "Specimen Days [1882]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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