Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Richard Labar to Walt Whitman, 16 October 1889

Date: October 16, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03224

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, "for a healthy handsome youngster of Philadelphia great admirer of L of G & another—who tired of commercial life here, & went out west & is married & busy there," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Stefan Schöberlein, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

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Richard E. Labar, REAL ESTATE,
Waukesha, Wis.,
Oct 16 1889

My dear Mr. Whitman

Trust everything is going happily with you— & that you will be on hand—with faculties aglowing—at our World's Fair, Chicago, '92


Walt Whitman is a poet who refused to be ground in the small mortar of human conventionality. Like Wagner in music, he thought he had a new idea, and resolutely, through a long life, impressed the individuality of that idea on the literature of the new world. It cannot be said that his poetry is good, but it may be maintained that he copied it nowhere. Whether he could write poetry or not, he deserved the thanks of all true Americans for dealing metrical form and ceremony the deadliest blow it has ever received. Such atrocities as Pope's translation of Homer would not be possible in the age of Walt Whitman.—Chicago Herald.

Richard E. Labar (1864–1885), a native of Pennsylvania, began working in the offices of the Philadelphia Ledger at the age of twelve. He later moved to Colorado and then spent the 1884–1885 academic year at the University of Michigan studying literature and law. He began to sell books to fund additional study at Union High School in Waukesha, Wisconsin. In 1887, he founded the Waukesha World newspaper and worked in real estate. For more on Labar and his family's history, see "Richard E. Labar," Portrait and Biographical Record of Waukesha County, Wisconsin, Volume 2 (Chicago: Excelsiour Publishing Co., 1894), 506–507.


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