Life & Letters


About this Item

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

Date: May 6, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.08107

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: Zainab Saleh, Stephanie Blalock, and Breanna Himschoot

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PM May 6 '90

Have not written much lately because I expect to see you soon & I have had four days of this siege of grip viciously departing (I hope departing)—But am decidedly easier to-day—am weaker than ever—my thoughts clear enough I suppose, but legs & spine weak, weak—appetite (wh' was quite gone) returning wet & dark weather

—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: CAMD [illegible] [illegible]J. MAY 7 | 6 AM | 90, LONDON | AM | MY 8 | O | CANADA; N.Y. | 1890 | 1030 AM | 8. [back]


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