Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Meredith R. Brookfield to Walt Whitman, 31 August 1869

Date: August 31, 1869

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03652

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, Elizabeth Lorang, John Schwaninger, Eder Jaramillo, Caterina Bernardini, Marie Ernster, Cristin Noonan, Paige Wilkinson, Stephanie Blalock, and Jeff Hill

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Morristown N.J.
Aug. 31/69

My dear Walt Whitman,

I have the advantage of you—I know you well—"My soul embraces you this hour, and we affect each other without ever seeing each other, and never perhaps to see each other"—I hope not though.1

Last Summer, and this I have been living in the woods, with "Leaves of Grass" beside me, one of my rustic companions.

And now that the days are growing cold I will have to content myself indoors. I don't like to—but must soon say good bye to the Birch trees by the brook—Many a time while lying on the Bank of the little stream reading your Book—have I wondered just what manner of man is Walt Whitman?—and I have thought of him so much that I seem to know him well—I hope some of these days I may have the pleasure of a visit from him—

I am spending my summer very quickly in this place—and should be most happy to have Mr. Whitman spend a Sunday with me when he can make it convenient to do so—I go to [Conn?], Mass. &c next week, for a change—but will be at home in a few weeks—and will be pleased to see you at any time—

Hope you will pardon my intrusion, but I am anxious to know you better, and would call you friend—

Would be pleased to hear from you at any time—

Sincerely Yours,
Meredith R. Brookfield

Little is known about Meredith Reese Brookfield (1840?–1876) of Morristown, New Jersey. He was the son of Moses Brookfield (1801–1883), a gentleman, and Cathryn A. Brookfield (1802–1891).


1. Brookfield is quoting from from Whitman's poem ultimately titled "Who Learns My Lesson Complete?," This poem first appeared as the penultimate untitled poem in Leaves of Grass (1855) and appeared again in the second edition of 1856 under the title "Lesson Poem." In 1860 and 1867, it appeared as "Leaves of Grass" No. 11 and No. 3, respectively. Given the circulation figures of the various editions, it is most likely that Brookfield quotes from the third edition of Leaves (1860), Autumn Rivulets (1881), Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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