Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Richard Maurice Bucke, 27 November 1888

Date: November 27, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07552

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 The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 239. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Stefan Schöberlein, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock

noon Nov: 27 '881

We have had (glum & dark yet) a severe storm & blow & destruction hereabout but I believe I am as serene as ever & getting on comfortably—had a present of some plump sweet partridges2—& half one for my breakfast—went well—I suppose you rec'd the Critic3 and American sent last night—I believe the books,4 printing &c. are going to eventuate satisfactorily from my point of view & plans—no cyclone of success—but no special mishap—wh' is a great victory considering my wreck'd bodily condition—

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. | Nov 27 | 8 PM | 88. [back]

2. The partridges were sent by William H. Blauvelt of Richfield Springs, New York. (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. and Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Tuesday, November 27, 1888). [back]

3. See Whitman's October 21, 1888, letter to Bucke. [back]

4. Whitman is referring to November Boughs and Complete Poems & Prose, both of which appeared in late 1888. [back]


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