Life & Letters


About this Item

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

Date: December 19, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07560

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), 4:249–250. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Stefan Schöberlein, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

Dec: 19 '88

Much the same—Suppose you get safely the letters sent f'm me every evn'g the last three. I am probably improving tho' very slowly—have some appetite—sitting up the last 4½ hours—last night fair—cold clear weather here—the last word I have f'm you is Sunday—did you get the letter written on Scot: Pubr's blank title, by me?2

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. | Dec 19 | 8 PM | 88. [back]

2. See Whitman's letter to William Sloane Kennedy, John Burroughs, William Douglas O'Connor, and Richard Maurice Bucke of December 3–4, 1888[back]


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