Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Emory S. Foster to Walt Whitman, 30 May 1890

Date: May 30, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02054

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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May 30 18902

Dear Sir:

Your brother, and my friend, Mr Thomas J. Whitman,3 on reading the accompanying lines, thought you would not be annoyed if I should send them to you. So I send them. You will at once recognize your own thought, somewhat differently expressed.

Yours faithfully
Emory S. Foster

To Walt Whitman
The Poet.

Come, said The Soul,
Such verses now, my body, let us write—write thou for me—
That when I come again, re-clothed in human form,
And walk in youth upon the earth,
The writing I shall find in treasured volumes,
[Records of man's best hopes, loves, aspirations, faiths],
And reading with new eyes, may add thereto.
Ever and ever thus shall youth returning, revise old age, till truth
Alone, shine on the written page, and move all hearts.4

If not delivered return to E. S. Foster. St. Louis, MO.5

Emory S. Foster (1839–1902), a strong believer in the Union cause, was a major in the 7th Missouri State Militia Cavalry during the Civil War. Wounded in battle, Foster survived because a young Confederate soldier saved his life. Later, Foster became an editor at the St. Louis Journal.


1. The name of "Henry Flad," the former president of the Board of Public Improvements, is cancelled with a stamp, and the name of the new president, Geo. Burnet, is stamped above it. [back]

2. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | Micle Street | Camden | New Jersey. It is postmarked: Saint Louis | May 29 | 6PM | MO; Camden, N. J. | May 31 | 7am | 1890 | Rec'd. [back]

3. Thomas Jefferson Whitman (1833–1890), known as "Jeff," was Walt Whitman's favorite brother. As a civil engineer, Jeff eventually became Superintendent of Water Works in St. Louis and a nationally recognized figure. For more on Jeff, see Randall Waldron, "Whitman, Thomas Jefferson (1833–1890)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

4. Foster's poem quotes, echoes, and plays upon Whitman's epigraph poem for the 1876 and 1891–92 editions of Leaves of Grass, beginning "Come, said my soul." [back]

5. Foster has written his return address above that printed address information at the top of the envelope. [back]


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