Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Ellen M. O'Connor, 15 May [1874]

Date: May 15, 1874

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00342

Source: The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 2:298. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Kenneth M. Price, Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, Zachary King, and Eric Conrad

431 Stevens st. / cor West / Camden, / N. Jersey.
May 15.1

Dear Nelly,

I have had a succession of bad spells, (& pretty close together) since I wrote the encouraging lines, some two or three weeks ago2—indeed for a month now, in addition to other troubles, a pronounced pain & distress in left side, growing intenser & quite extended—often coming on at night, waking me up, & keeping me from sleep all night afterward—But this morning as I write, (9 o'clock after breakfast—fish, Graham bread, tea, my appetite, though modified, by no means lost)—I feel quite peert, in good spirits, free from any marked distress—& if you were to come in this minute, (than which, dear Nelly, I can think of no blesseder God-send,) you would say I appear in face, flesh, color, expression, &c. just the same Walt as of yore—Will this good turn & let-up of today (yesterday morning at this time I felt like death—& thought of it—) be followed by other relapses? Probably—for so it has been now for nearly a year. And yet each time I cannot help fancying that now I am going to recuperate—

As I write, sitting here in the parlor alone by the window, it is very pleasant—soothing—it is a sweet balmy, not hot morning—my sister's sister,3 from Norwich, Conn. is here on a visit, with her little 8 months old babe-boy—She is walking in the other room, singing it to sleep, in her arms—she has a fine contralto voice, & is singing beautifully, unconsciously—it does me good too—



1. This envelope is endorsed, "Ans'd." Its envelope bears the address, "Mrs. E. M. O'Connor | 1015 O street | near 11th N. W. | Washington, | D.C." It is postmarked: "Camden | May | 15 | N.J." [back]

2. Actually Whitman was not "encouraging" in his May 1, 1874 letter to Ellen O'Connor. [back]

3. Whitman refers here to a sister of George's wife Louisa. [back]


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