Life & Letters


About this Item

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

Date: May 15, 1874

Source: 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.

Location: The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00342

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]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Ed Folsom & Kenneth M. Price, editors.