Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Oscar Wilde to Walt Whitman, 1 March 1882

Date: March 1, 1882

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04865

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 notes: The annotation, "from Oscar Wilde | early in '82," is in the hand of Walt Whitman. The annotation, "see notes Sept 7–8–9 1888," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Eder Jaramillo, and Nicole Gray

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1267 Broadway, New York

My Dear Dear Walt—

Swinburne has just written to me to say as follows.

"I am sincerely interested and gratified by your account of Walt Whitman and the assurance of his kindly and friendly feeling towards me: and I thank you, no less sincerely, for your kindness in sending me word of it. As sincerely can I say, what I shall be freshly obliged to you if you will assure him of in my name, that I have by no manner of means relaxed my admiration of his noblest works—such parts, above all, of his writings, as treat of the noblest subjects, material and spiritual, with which poetry can deal—I have always thought it, and I believe it will be hereafter generally thought his highest and surely most enviable distinction that he never speaks so well as when he speaks of great matters—Liberty, for instance, and Death.

This of course does not imply that I do, or rather it implies that I do not agree with all his theories, or admire all his work in anything like equal measure—a form of admiration which I should by no means desire for myself and am as little prepared to bestow on another—considering it a form of scarcely indirect insult"

There! You see how you remain in our hearts—and how simply and grandly Swinburne speaks of you knowing you to be simple and grand yourself.

Will you in return send me for Swinburne a copy of your Essay on Poetry—the pamphlet—with your name and his on it—it would please him so much. Before I leave America I must see you again—there is no one in this wide great world of America whom I love and honor so much.

With warm affection, and honorable admiration,
Oscar Wilde


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