Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: W.J. Hensley to Walt Whitman, 6 March 1888

Date: March 6, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07879

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.

Contributors to digital file: Ashlyn Stewart, Breanna Himschoot, Brandon James O'Neil, and Stephanie Blalock

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The Mount Lodge,
St Leonard.
6. 3. 88.

Dear Sir,

Inspired by a perusal of some of your leaves of grass, especially "Starting from Paumanok," "Song of the Open Road" & "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, I dashed off the enclosed Sonnet, which I take the liberty of send to you, the rather to gratify my own pride, than to expect that you will esteem such a faulty production to be an honour.

I hope you will not consider me to be taking a liberty, but merely to be paying a somewhat antiquated tribute (spontaneously) to the honour of a great genius.

Yours respectfully,
W.J. Hensley

"I dream'd a dream I saw a city invincible
to the attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth,
I dreamed that was the new city of friends."1


However I think it better to leave it as it is—

To a Prophet.

Whitman, thy earnest cries have reached our shore,
Thou prophet of the old, & new En-Masse:
From world to world the glorious tidings pass,
Of which down-trodden mortals scarce before
Did dream, or if they did, with fire and gore
Raised Hell on Earth by setting class 'gainst class;
Thus crushing Freedom at her birth, alas!
And ripping up the mother that her bore.

But thou dost teach a common Brotherhood,
The Present joins the Past, the East the West,
And from their union spring a perfect brood,
Bound by the sacred ties of Comradeship,
To purify our Earth from Error's pest,
Till her last Sun in waves eternal dip.


As yet we have no information about this correspondent.


1. Hensley is referring to Section 34 of the "Calamus" cluster of poems, which would later be entitled I Dreamed in a Dream[back]


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