Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: William Sloane Kennedy to Walt Whitman, 25 April 1889

Date: April 25, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02998

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, Caterina Bernardini, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

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Noon. .891

Dear W. W.

I'm thinking often of you. Your Homeric lines on the dandelion too2—they are as immortal as those of Burns or Wordsworth on the daisy.

Can't they carry you down & out for a ride? Do tell me & try to do this. It makes me feel badly to think of you as imprisoned.

W. S. K.

William Sloane Kennedy (1850–1929) was on the staff of the Philadelphia American and the Boston Transcript; he also published biographies of Longfellow, Holmes, and Whittier (Dictionary of American Biography [New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1933], 336–337). Apparently Kennedy called on the poet for the first time on November 21, 1880 (William Sloane Kennedy, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman [London: Alexander Gardener, 1896], 1). Though Kennedy was to become a fierce defender of Whitman, in his first published article he admitted reservations about the "coarse indecencies of language" and protested that Whitman's ideal of democracy was "too coarse and crude"; see The Californian, 3 (February 1881), 149–158. For more about Kennedy, see Katherine Reagan, "Kennedy, William Sloane (1850–1929)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. This postal card is addressed: Walt Whitman | Camden | New Jersey. It is postmarked: BOSTON, MASS. | APR 24 | [illegible] | 1889; CAMDEN, N.J. | APR | 25 | 10AM | 1889 | REC'D. [back]

2. Kennedy is referring to Whitman's poem "The First Dandelion," which had been first published in the New York Herald, on March 12, 1888. [back]


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