Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Richard Maurice Bucke, 24 October 1889

Date: October 24, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07717

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.

Notes for this letter were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented, updated, or created by Whitman Archive staff as appropriate.

Contributors to digital file: Braden Krien, Ashlyn Stewart, Breanna Himschoot, and Stephanie Blalock



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Camden
Oct:24 '89 1

A fine sunny cold day, but n e wind—Y'rs rec'd this mn'g2—I send you papers this mn'g—(a mistake that they were sent, Horace3 had them) —am feeling middling—appetite good—sleep not bad—(must have a quite uninterrupted nap of say four hours f'm 12 to 4 nearly every night)—an egg (fried very rare) with Graham br'd for my breakfast—tea, cocoa or coffee—no medicine or spirits at all—bad or half-bad head muss (? catarrhal—?4 cold in head feeling) 5/6ths of the time—& more or less bladder trouble same—not so weak as four months ago—


W W


Correspondent:
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).

Notes:

1. This postal card is addressed: Dr Bucke | Asylum | London | Ontario Canada. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Oct 24 | 4 30 PM | 89; N Y | 10-24-89 | 11 PM | [illegible]. [back]

2. This letter does not seem to be extant. [back]

3. Horace L. Traubel (1858–1919) was an American essayist, poet, and magazine publisher. He is best remembered as the literary executor, biographer, and self-fashioned "spirit child" of Walt Whitman. During the mid-1880s and until Whitman's death in 1892, Traubel visited the poet virtually every day and took thorough notes of their conversations, which he later transcribed and published in three large volumes entitled With Walt Whitman in Camden (1906, 1908, & 1914). After his death, Traubel left behind enough manuscripts for six more volumes of the series, the final two of which were published in 1996. For more on Traubel, see Ed Folsom, "Traubel, Horace L. [1858–1919]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

4. These question marks are transcribed as Whitman wrote them. [back]


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