Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to James T. Fields, 20 January 1869

Date: January 20, 1869

Whitman Archive ID: uva.00353

Source: Papers of Walt Whitman (MSS 3829), Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature, Albert H. Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 2:77. 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, Zachary King, and Eric Conrad

Attorney General's Office,
Jan. 20, 1869.

James T. Fields
Dear Sir:1

The package of February magazines, sent on the 16th, arrived safely yesterday. Accept my thanks. I am pleased with the typographical appearance, correctness, &c. of my piece.2

I enclose a piece, "Thou vast Rondure, Swimming in Space," of which I have to say to you as follows. It is to appear in the April number of the London Fortnightly Review.3 Having just received a note from the editor of that Review, Mr. Morley, in which he intimates that he has no objection to its appearing simultaneously in America, I thought I would show it to you. Very possibly, you will not care any how to print a piece which is to appear elsewhere. Should that, however, be no objection, and should you consider the piece available for your purposes, the price is $20. Of course it would have to go in your Number for April. I reserve the right of printing in future book.

Respectfully, &c
Walt Whitman


1. James T. Fields (1817–1881) succeeded James Russell Lowell as editor of the Atlantic Monthly. After Emerson, who had received "Proud Music of the Sea-Storm" in Walt Whitman's November 30, 1868 letter, delivered the poem to Fields, Fields sent $100 to Walt Whitman on December 5, 1868. He informed Walt Whitman on December 14, 1868 that if he was to get the poem into the February issue it would be impossible to send proof to Washington. This was the second of Walt Whitman's poems to appear in the Atlantic Monthly; "Bardic Symbols" was published on April 5, 1860 and "Proud Music of the Sea-Storm" was published on February 23, 1869. (For more on "Bardic Symbols," see Walt Whitman's January 20, 1860 letter to James Russell Lowell and Whitman's March 2, 1860 letter to the editor of the Atlantic Monthly.) [back]

2. "Proud Music of the Sea-Storm." Walt Whitman inserted a blurb about the poem in the Washington Star of January 18, 1869; see Emory Holloway, American Mercury, 18 (1929), 483–485. [back]

3. For the solicitation to the London Fortnightly Review, see Whitman's December 17, 1868 letter to John Morley. The poem did not appear in either magazine. It later was incorporated into Passage to India[back]


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