Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Percy Ives to Walt Whitman, 5 August 1887

Date: August 5, 1887

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02364

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: Alex Kinnaman, Stefan Schöberlein, Nicole Gray, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

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Aug 5. 87

My dear Friend Walt Whitman

I write you from the Reading Room of the British Museum.

I am here looking into some early history and being a little tired I wished to have something to refresh me so that I called for "Leaves of Grass" published in 1855 in Brooklyn New York— a rare picturesque old book 4°. I have just laid it down and taken up my pen to tell you of the fresh and vigorous fruit your rattling sentences have filled me with. If compliments are not disagreeable to you when sincere or whether they are or not I now take the liberty of telling you that there is more of the essence of life and movement in your Leaves of Grass than anything I have ever met with and that it is one of those few books whose vacancy could not be readily supplied by another. A man or woman with any life could not help but be electrified by your immense sweeps in those inspiring sentences. Being away from home I think I feel more keenly the spirit of your verses.

I hope that this will find you well and I also hope that I may receive a line from you telling me of your well being.

My address is No 48 Rue d'Orsel Paris.

Very affectionately yours
Percy Ives.

Percy Ives, grandson of Elisa Leggett, was an aspiring artist who made several pencil sketches of Whitman on December 21, 1881. They resulted in the oil painting now in the Feinberg Collection (Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). On August 11, 1885, Whitman wrote to Percy in answer to a letter now lost. See Charles E. Feinberg, "Percy Ives, Detroit and Walt Whitman," Detroit Historical Society Bulletin 16 (February 1960), 5–8.


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