Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Aleck, 13 May [1885]

Date: May 13, 1885

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07000

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, "(1885)," is in an unknown hand.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Stefan Schöberlein, Ian Faith, Kyle Barton, and Nicole Gray

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Wednesday Evn'g
May 13

Aleck dear boy I cannot find "Locusts & Wild Honey" this moment—but let me lend you another of John Burroughs's1 books—(thought by some to be his best.)—"Birds and Poets"—hope it will please you & your mother and sister.

Your friend

Aleck boy here is a copy slip of my little new poem just out in Harpers' Weekly of May 16.2

As yet we have no information about this correspondent.


1. The naturalist John Burroughs (1837–1921) met Whitman on the streets of Washington, D.C., in 1864. After returning to Brooklyn in 1864, Whitman commenced what was to become a decades-long correspondence with Burroughs. Burroughs was magnetically drawn to Whitman. However, the correspondence between the two men is, as Burroughs acknowledged, curiously "matter-of-fact." Burroughs would write several books involving or devoted to Whitman's work: Notes on Walt Whitman, as Poet and Person (1867), Birds and Poets (1877), Whitman, A Study (1896), and Accepting the Universe (1924). For more on Whitman's relationship with Burroughs, see Carmine Sarracino, "Burroughs, John [1837–1921] and Ursula [1836–1917]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

2. Whitman's poem "As One by One Withdraw the Lofty Actors" (later "Death of General Grant") appeared in Harper's Weekly on May 16. [back]


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