Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Richard Maurice Bucke, 6 March 1890

Date: March 6, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07729

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

Related item: Whitman wrote this letter to Bucke on the back of an October 3, 1889, letter he received from his friend and defender William Sloane Kennedy. See loc.07728.

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ryan Furlong, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

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March 6 PM '90

The sun out & fine this afternoon—but we have had a dark cold storm two days—I keep on ab't same as usual—in-doors these times—my MS returned f'm the Nineteenth Century2—Shall find some other market perhaps—(if not, shall print in a little another Annex3—for I contemplate such)—have had my mid-day massage—am sitting here at the table in my den—good oak fire—

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 Bucke | Asylum | London | Ontario | Canada. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Mar 6 | 8 PM | 90. [back]

2. See Whitman's February 9, 1890, letter to James Knowles, editor of Nineteenth Century, in which he reminds Knowles that he has sent the poem "Old Age's Echoes" and was still awaiting a reply. See also Knowles's February 21, 1890, letter in response. [back]

3. This "Annex" would become Good-bye My Fancy (1891). [back]


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