Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Richard Maurice Bucke, 19 July 1888

Date: July 19, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07485

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:188. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Ryan Furlong, Alex Ashland, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

Thursday 2 PM July 19 '88

Ab't the same subject continued, quite a decided bowel motion at 12. A brisk rain forenoon & fair temperature—warmish—yours of 17th rec'd to-day—I wonder if you are not to be envied there—my dear mother (who enjoy'd work) I've heard tell how she only wanted the decks clear & some one to take charge of the young ones for five or six hours, off her care—and then—I am sitting here fairly.

Walt Whitman

Richard Maurice Bucke (1837–1902) was a Canadian physician and psychiatrist who grew close to Whitman after reading Leaves of Grass in 1867 (and later memorizing it) and meeting the poet in Camden a decade later. Even before meeting Whitman, Bucke claimed in 1872 that a reading of Leaves of Grass led him to experience "cosmic consciousness" and an overwhelming sense of epiphany. Bucke became the poet's first biographer with Walt Whitman (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883), and he later served as one of his medical advisors and literary executors. For more on the relationship of Bucke and Whitman, see Howard Nelson, "Bucke, Richard Maurice," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. This letter is addressed: Dr R M Bucke | Asylum | London | Ontario Canada. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Jul 20 | 6 AM | 88; N.Y. | 7-20-88 | 11 30 AM | 1. [back]


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